here and there

Monday, July 13, 2015

Borscht! Beet Soup, traditional to modernized

I came across this video Baba and Borscht, which I sent out to my cousins.  

Every Bit your Baba's Borshch;soup smackdown in Andrew
Edmonton Journal,  July 22, 2013
Here is the email that came from one of my cousin's, who my Mom thought her Mom was an incredible cook. These comments did not come readily from my Mom!

Well I start with the beets. They have to be sliced thin and then cut in strips that are very fine... cut again in half if too long. Next goes in the onion and minced garlic, potatoes cut in small cubes, carrots cut fairly fine cubes. fresh peas if in season, also string beans cut in small pieces, salt,  pepper, dill and of course water. If the veggies are " young & fresh" I sometimes add sweet cream just before they are fully cooked. In this case I may omit the vinegar which I like to add or sour salt. Some times I add cooked navy beans (garlic beans) when I need the protein on a meatless week Very basic. For Dhokabor borstch I add some meat stock and cabbage. How about you?

Making Borscht in my home!

Your cutting for the soup is very similar to Mom’s, but she always julienned the carrots and potatoes too, unless it was a spring borscht. I put that recipe into one of the Centennial  books, word for word from my Aunt Florence, Mom’s sister.  Mom’s soup was a work of art with all the matchstick veggies. I have not been able to get that good at chopping the veggies.  I laughed at Baba Magda's knife skills in the video! 

I did borscht in my home town, a couple of summers ago with all the chopping, but on the second day, I roughly chopped more vegetables, i.e. beets into the soup. That day, my cousin popped in at lunch and was offered some soup.  I haven't heard the end of how I chopped my veggies for Borscht.  Good grief!

When our cousin was here from Ukraine, our Swiss friends wanted us to bring Traditional Ukrainian Borscht to their Canada Day celebration party.  Our friend had run out and bought a bundle of beets with  lush leaves with tiny beets.  

What a production her borscht making was and I couldn't imagine my Mom having much time left for anything else using all the steps she did!  Her brother does it the same way, so it must be the way they do it in their village.  They first make a meat stock with pork roast and a whole onion which they throw away after this step. Then they grate all their vegetables and fry them.  The funny thing was that she said she couldn’t make it as there was not enough beets, she had thrown away the beet greens and had three small golf ball sized beets sitting on the counter.  They do not use the beet greens, as was also mentioned in Olia's video. Interesting! I liked the taste of this soup the best with the beet greens.  Vernon said the second day serving of this soup was like mush as the grated vegetables had cook down.

I like my borscht to have a dark colour, so I parboil my beets, then julienned them and add the beets near the end.  I do add white vinegar and cream at the very end.  Fresh garden dill is lovely and very different tasting from the store bought dill.  Bill loves this soup, and wanted this at our wedding, which I vetoed!  He also likes fresh peas from the garden in his soup.  However, these are only available in the spring. 

Meatless Borscht Soup

An interesting video was done on making borscht by Olia Hercules, an upcoming Chef with roots in Ukraine, who now  lives in London!

Oila talks about a Zeleney or Green Borscht.. The interesting thing is that she used a duck for stock for this soup along with a whole onion and bay leaves.  This was brought to boil and simmer until the meat was tender about 2 1/2 hours.  I had never seen a whole onion used in soup making as usually my Mom would chop the onion, my cousin from Ukraine did the same and then threw it out! The soup was strained and the meat removed to be shredded when cool. 

Grated carrots and finely diced onions were sautéed in the duck fat that was skimmed from the broth.  Once the carrots and onions were caramelized, this was also added to the broth along with diced potatoes to cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes were tender. 

To serve, Olia modernized the presentation of this soup by added the shredded duck at the bottom of the bowl, then chopped fresh herbs such as sorrel.  Interesting she talked about her Mom not calling a soup "borscht" if it did not have beets. Oila did mentioned that although they did not use beet stems or leaves in the soups in Ukraine, she did here.  This had surprised me greatly when my cousin in Ukraine also threw out the lush green leaves, something I had grown up eating on the farm in Canada.  The hot broth would cook the greens when poured over the freshly chopped beets and herbs.  Oila garnished the soup with chopped green onions, chopped hard boiled duck eggs and sour cream.

Olia's soup was also served pampusky with a garlic oil.

The recipe for green borscht is almost word for word that Olia used, but this site does not give her credit for the recipe.  The above picture of green Borscht was pulled from this site.

Green Borscht was never made by my Mom and I am not sure what Sorrel taste like! 


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