But please, I implore you, don’t let those school cafeteria beets or the Klingon sounding name jade you against trying this wonderful soup. You’ll be glad you did.
I first discovered Borscht on a trip to Moscow for a hockey tournament. I wasn’t playing hockey, mind you...I’m a native Texan, and hockey is still a mystery to me. I was just there to video tape the games. In my spare time, I discovered I liked several things about Moscow. Cheap pilsner beer, vodka, pretty Russian girls with names like Svetlana, and Borscht.
It was a cold, frigid February, and the Moscva river was frozen over, and it felt like your breath would freeze in front of you. The first taste of Borscht in a Moscow restaurant was a warm, savory delight. I ordered a bowl any time we were dining out, and thankfully, it was always ever present. As soon as I got back home, I set about reverse engineering this wonderful soup, and after a few trials, I think I nailed it.
2 to 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, diced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed
4 large beets, peeled and shredded
42 oz (3 cans) beef broth
42 oz (3 cans) chicken broth
28 oz (2 cans) water
3 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
Dill, fresh and dried
Salt and Pepper
Red wine vinegar (optional)
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Pride of Prague Spice (optional)
Sour Cream (optional)
Pride of Prague spice...sort of my secret ingredient for this soup, I guess. Just add a dash if you have it, but if not, no worries, it’s not a major flavor component. Also, if a little more tangy flavor is desired, I add a dash of red wine vinegar and/or a dash of balsamic vinegar, but those ingredients are not particularly traditional--just my little variation.
Let the soup simmer for ten minutes more, adding a little fresh dill at this point. Taste and make any spice adjustments as necessary. Serve it in a shallow bowl with a lip so that you can sprinkle some fresh dill around the edge. This looks pretty and provides extra dill for the diner to sweep into the soup as needed.
Note, you’ll find many recipes that call for cabbage in Borscht. I didn’t see it this way in Moscow, so perhaps this is more of the Ukrainian way to do it. Not sure, but I tried it with cabbage once, and didn’t care for it nearly as much. It had an unpleasant ‘boiled cabbage’ flavor to it, so I chose to omit this ingredient, as did all the Russian chefs at the restaurants where we dined.
Well, hope you enjoy, and I’d love to hear what you think of this dish, if you try it out.
Until next time,