Ukrainian red beetroot soup
Borscht is a very popular soup in Ukrainian cuisine, made primarily with beets giving its distinctive color. It is well known throughout East Europe as well as Russia with a lot of regional variations.
Though the general perception of borscht is that of a soup made with beetroots, there is also the green and white borscht.
The Borscht is generally sour, as it is topped with sour cream as well as the tomato puree added. Basically, root vegetables like beetroots, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic along with cabbage are cooked in a meat broth.
Though these are the very common vegetables added, you can just about add anything you feel like. Some people add beans, mushrooms, and zucchini.
I added a handful of frozen peas. And since I wanted to keep it vegetarian, I have used water. Vegetable stock is more preferable.
If you want to make it non-vegetarian, make a broth out of the meat with the bones. Generally, pork and beef are used, though you can use chicken and lamb too. Discard the bones and add back the meat into the soup.
Allspice berries seem to be mandatory for the soup. As I did not have them I have added the known substitute for it – cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. If you have allspice berries, add a tsp of it, and omit these from the recipe.
Also, I have replaced sour cream with thick yogurt. When consuming the sour cream is mixed with the rest of the soup and then had.
The soup seemed watery with a whole lot of vegetables and spices adding to the flavor. No cornflour is added to thicken, as we do in our Indian soups 🙂 .
For most people its a soup to clear up the refrigerator, as with me I normally make the famous Keralite “avial” when I have to clear the fridge 😀 .
The soup was yummy, with a perfect tang and we relished it with homemade dinner rolls.
Over to the recipe…
- 1 medium sized beetroot(130g)
- ½ carrot(60g)
- 1 medium sized potato(147 g)
- Palm sized cabbage(73g)
- 1 medium sized onion (58g)
- 2 cloves garlic(6 g)
- 1 green chilly(2 g)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 piece cinnamon
- 2 nos cloves
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1 medium sized tomato- pureed and strained( 126g)
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- a handfull dill leaves(chopped)
- a pinch turmeric powder
- few tbsp sour cream/ thick yogurt or curd
- Chopped dill leaves
- Wash the vegetables. Grate the beets, Chop the potato and carrots into cubes and the onion, garlic and cabbage into thin strips. Slit the green chilly in the middle.
- Heat up a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and add the bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves. Fry for a few seconds and add the onion, garlic and green chilly.
- Saute till the onions become translucent and add 2 cups of water or vegetable stock.
- Bring this to a boil and add all the vegetables. Again when it starts boiling add the tomato puree and a handful of frozen peas (optional).
- Add the salt, pepper, sugar, turmeric and nutmeg powders and cook for about 10 minutes till the vegetables are done. You can add more water/stock here if it does not seem enough.
- Just before switching off add a handful of finely chopped dill and lemon juice. Discard the bay leaf, adjust spices as per preference and turn off the stove.
- Garnish with a blob of sour cream and dill leaves and serve.
- Potatoes are generally added more than the rest of the vegetables, though it is up to individual preference.
- The gram measures indicate the exact quantity I have used in this recipe. This is just to approximate. A little more or less will not affect the recipe.
- Sugar is normally not added, though I have added a bit to balance the tartness from the tomatoes and yogurt.
- A pinch of turmeric will enhance the color and is good for health as well, though in Ukraine they do not add.
- Dill leaves are also a definite must for the authentic flavor. Still, you can replace with other herbs of your choice if you don’t have dill.
Do look up my other soups