Virtually the national dish of the Ukraine, borscht is traditionally made with a flavorful secondary cut of beef and either pork shoulder or a meaty smoked bacon — or both. Some Russian cooks add a teaspoon or so of sugar to counteract the acidity of the beets and tomatoes, but, personally, I like the tartness. If you prefer to serve the soup chilled instead of hot, be sure to skim off any fat that forms on the surface. Although it is customary to garnish a bowl of borscht with a dollop of sour cream, I like mine plain. What is obligatory with the soup is thin slices of dark pumpernickel bread — buttered.–James Villas
Russian Borscht Recipe
- Quick Glance
- Makes 6 servings
- 2 pounds boned beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 pound double-smoked lean slab bacon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 quarts water
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, scraped and coarsely chopped
- 4 medium canned beets, diced
- One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, juice included
- 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
- 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
- Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
- 1. In a large pot, combine the beef, bacon, water, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and onion, bring to a boil, and skim froth from the top. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till the beef is tender, about 2 hours.
- 2. Add the celery and carrot and simmer about 20 minutes longer. Add the beets, tomatoes, and cabbage and simmer 20 minutes longer. Add the potato, vinegar, and dill and simmer about 15 minutes longer.
- 3. Serve the soup, hot or chilled, in deep soup bowls, with or without a dollop of sour cream on top.
Russian Borscht Recipe © 2007 James Villas. Photo © 2007 Andrea Grablewski. All rights reserved.