Borscht is a family recipe that I’ve grown up on. It’s Eastern European in tradition, and variations of it are made in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania… the list goes on. Borscht is always a soup based on beets (or beetroot, as Aussies would call it), but like any wide-reaching dish, has many variations and versions. My parents started making it when they were homesteading in the Blaeberry Valley near Golden, BC, and had a huge garden with a lot of vegetables to use. So if you encounter some delicious-looking veggies at your next Farmer’s Market, keep this recipe in mind!
The recipe I’ve written here is the more exact version of the recipe my dad gave me and quite miraculously, tastes pretty much exactly the same as his. I’d never even made it before this! Borscht is definitely a comfort food for a cold winter nights. Maybe a little out of season for you North Americans right now, but in chilly Australia (don’t worry, I’m not calling it cold!), it hits the spot.
The Morris Family’s Borscht
Makes: A really big pot’s worth
Cooking time: 30 minutes prep, 1 hour cooking total
- 3 medium beets, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 each head of cabbage and cauliflower
- 1 lb (500 g) ground beef, cooked (omit for a vegetarian version)
- 1 potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- optional: 1 carrot peeled and sliced, 2 celery stalks chopped, 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 L prepared stock, vegetable or beef
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 L water
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- salt and pepper
Chop all vegetables that you plan on using. In large pot, fry onions and garlic with a bit of olive oil or butter until softened and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the other vegetables, stock, water, spices, and vinegar. Cover and bring to a very low simmer.
In large frying pan, cook ground beef just until all pink has gone. Drain most of any fats released by the meat, if more than 1 tbsp is present. Once cooked, add to the simmering vegetable pot, and cover. Keep soup on medium-low heat, at a very very low simmer, for about 45 minutes, or until vegetables are all soft and beginning to take the pink from the beets. Taste about halfway through to ensure that spices are to your liking, and adjust as necessary—remember that they develop flavour the longer they cook.
Serve borscht hot with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt on top, with an extra garnish of dill or with some fresh cheese biscuits. Yum!