A soup of Ukrainian origin, which became very famous all over Eastern and central Europe. In this soup, beetroot is the star of the show. Beets are a primary vegetable used in those areas during the cold months of winter. The story of Borscht began, when people would keep trimmings of root vegetables – mainly beets – in a large pot, that when full they would cook in beef broth and serve as soup. It was therefore known to be a poor man’s soup, at first, but then moved up in rank to make it into a star soup in every city.
Different cities created different versions of this soup, however the original Ukrainian preparation uses beats as a base, and add starchy root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, together with chopped celery, tomatoes and mushrooms; all cooked in beef broth. The Russian borscht is made out of beets, cabbages and potatoes, the Polish version includes tomatoes and tomato paste, while the Romanian Borscht is based on the use of fermented wheat.
Whichever version you choose to make, a key component of all Borscht soups is acidity, usually coming from the use of red wine vinegar or the use of lemon. Another staple ingredient is a dollop of sour cream on top.
Borscht is served in 2 variations…
- Hot Borscht – the more famous version. Served as a hearty soup that can be served as a main, especially when bacon or meat are used in making it. But usually served as an appetiser with a side of dark bread such as pumpernickel.
- Cold Borscht (Chlodnik) – famous in Belarusian, Polish and Ukrainian cuisines, and is a relative of Gazpacho, or the Hungarian Cold Tomato Soup…etc. Once the Borscht is cooked, it is cooled, then mixed with sour cream or yogurt, which turns it into a pinkish hue. Chopped hard boiled eggs are then mixed into it and it is finally garnished with dill or parsley. This version makes for a unique cold soup or shooter aperitif for a cocktail party.
Since we are talking beets and what to do when they are in season and very abundant, I have included for you a video on how to make beet chips. They are very in at the moment, but trendy or not, these beautiful beet chips are much better to snack on than those processed potato crisps you buy at the supermarkets! You can flavour them to any flavour you like, BBQ, paprika, spicy, salty….etc.