Polish Borscht

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borscht title

 

I promise you’ve never had a vegetable soup like this.

Borscht has actually been totally foreign to me until this past week. I was recently inspired to make it after a trip to one of my favorite stores in the whole, wide world. There’s a little import deli and grocery store not too far from me, and every visit feels like Christmas to me. No, really.

bendes 3

 

This is why.

bendes 1

 

This is why, too.

bendes 2

 

And especially this.

It’s among these aisles that I picked up a jar of pickled beets (as well as multiple bottles of wine), and I figured it was about time I satisfied my other cultural half and made some borscht.

Borscht is a staple in a few cuisines: Ukraine, Russia and Poland. Each country seems to have its own style and variations in ingredients. Beets are the base of this soup, which provides the purpley-pink-reddish color, but the other vegetables are fairly interchangeable. Spices seem to vary as well, so I’ve chosen ingredients that I know well and feel are related to my heritage. This soup tastes unlike any other I’ve had: a pickled tang and a sweetness from the vegetable juices.

borscht ingredients

 

A lovely fact: This super soup is packed with vitamins. Any sweetness comes directly from the sugar in the vegetables. Salt is minimal. So remember, folks, borscht is your friend!

Ingredients
For four

Olive oil- to coat pan
Yellow onion- 1/4 whole, sliced wide and thin
Celery- 2 stalks, two-inch pieces
Carrot- 1 large, two-inch pieces
Parsnip- 1 whole, two-inch pieces
Green onion- 3 stalks, diced
Sauerkraut- 1 cup
Pickled beets- 15 slices (or approx. half of a 12.5 oz jar), rough chop
Garlic- 1 clove, diced
Salt- 1 tsp.
Black pepper- freshly ground, 15 grinds
Fresh marjoram- 3 sprigs, diced
Dill seed- 2 tsp
Liquid from pickled beet jar- half the liquid
Water- enough to cover vegetables, approx. 4 cups
Dill- optional garnish
Sour cream- optional garnish

You will also need

A large pot and spoon

  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil.
  2. Dump all the vegetables into the pot and set the heat to medium-high. Cover the pot and cook the vegetables down nice and soft. This takes around ten minutes. You can add more olive oil if the vegetables haven’t cooked down enough.
  3. Add all spices to the pot. Give everything a good stir. Turn the heat down to a medium.
  4. Add the liquid from the pickled beet jar. Pour water into the pot until the vegetables are just covered.
  5. Return the lid to the pot and cook until the soup is boiling. Lower the temperature and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. This allows all spices to blend well together and the vegetables to soften some more.
  6. To serve, ladle a portion of soup into a bowl, add a couple sprigs of dill, and spoon a dollop of sour cream on top. Personally, I like to stir my dill around in my bowl before eating the soup. Marjoram also works as a garnish.

This soup can be had hot or chilled. It is also optional to strain all the vegetables from the soup and only eat the broth. The vegetables can be used for other dishes. For hot soup on a rainy day, I prefer leaving the vegetables in. On humid afternoons, a chilled purple snack helps to cool off 🙂

borscht 1

 

Please have a napkin handy, lest you stain any surfaces a lovely purple color.

 

 

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