I love borscht. In fact, I tend to enjoy most Russian food that I try. I know that sounds weird because we don’t typically think of Russia as a gourmet-food-producing country, but during my time in Russia, I was very open to trying new things and recall most of what I ate pretty fondly (even though I still have no idea what half of it was). There’s just something about eating warming dishes that are purposely designed to be low-budget, high-flavor and completely filling, that is satisfying. Even though Will was not part of my Russian travels (this was before we were dating…crazy!!), I have confidently assured him that Russian foods are just as fun to try as any of the other global areas we frequent – India, Morocco, Ireland, etc. We don’t explore a lot with Russian food (put a Russian cookbook on my Christmas list, please) we are definitely open to it. And of course the perfect recipe to start with is the classic: borscht.
We got a ton of beets in our food subscription box one week and after trying beet pasta, we wanted to do something different. We looked back on the blog to see if the last time we made borscht had been in our pre-blog years and it turns out it was. Which brings up two things – #1: we had pre-blog years and it makes me sad that I didn’t start blogging sooner and #2: we make so many different recipes that it took us a minimum of three years to repeat one. Think about that. Anyways, with the last borscht recipe long gone into the ether of our memories and the internet, Will did some scrounging around and researching what beet recipe would work best for us, based on what we had on hand and what appeared to be the most straightforward recipe. He ultimately combined several in his clever mind, but we agreed to credit the one listed below as the main source of his inspiration. Turns out you can make borscht a lot of different ways (newsflash to me) and this is what he settled on. So if you’ve a) never tried Russian food and b) never cooked with beets, and have a curiosity about either, now’s your time to try this!
Cooking Notes: Will made several alterations to this recipe after reviewing it with other recipes. He only used 1 large russet potato as opposed to 2-3 smaller potatoes. Instead of using 2-3 large/medium beets, he used 8 small beets. He used 1 regular yellow onion instead of a red onion. He omitted the following: white beans, carrots and a bell pepper. Lastly, he didn’t use ketchup or tomato sauce, but instead substituted tomato paste.
Borscht (serves 6-8; inspired by Natasha’s Kitchen)
1 large russet potato
8 small beets
10 cups water
6 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 tsp salt
Prep all of your ingredients before doing anything else – grate the beets, dice the onion, slice the potatoes 1/4″ thick, finely slice the 1/2 head of cabbage.
Fill a large soup pot with 10 cups of water and 6 cups of chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked. While the potatoes cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 tbsp olive oil, then saute your beets and onion until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp of tomato paste when the veggies are almost done cooking.
When the potatoes are tender and done cooking, add the cabbage and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Once the cabbage has cooked, add the beets/onion mix to the soup pot. Add 4 tbsp of lemon juice, 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 2 bay leaves and 2 tbsp of chopped dill, to the pot. Cook another 5 minutes or until the cabbage is very soft and well cooked. Add more salt or lemon juice, to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh bread, and enjoy!