The Borscht is the most amazing soup on earth. Made with very simple ingredients it tastes like good old things. I simply love it.
Its origins are Ukranian and it is spread throughout Russian countries, with number of variations.
The secret for a good borscht is a good broth – this is what my ukranian friends said to me. You can make a broth with pork or beef. I picked the first – since the humble origins of the plate made me feel cheaper pieces of pork were much easier to be found on a poor family table compared with beef. Up to you.
My friend told me that you should keep half of the beetroot (once grated) in red wine vinegar for half hour using them (very well drained). Other say that without Kvas (a fermented sort of liquor made with fruits) there is no borscht. But this is quite impossible to define, it is like a Tiramisù in Italy: 60 million families, 60 million recipes. : )
I made it relatively easier: the recipe below is to be made in 2 times. First you make the broth then the borscht. I asked my friend if I could use vinegar directly without making any infusion – she agreed. LOL.
So let’s go with this Ukranian borscht!
For the broth
5 pork ribs
250 grams pork shoulder or neck meat
2 celery stalks
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs tomato paste
20 grams dill
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
For the borsch
1 celery stalk
1 garlic clove
250 grams celery root (grated)
800 grams beetroot (grated)
400 grams cabbage (finely sliced)
2 tbs tomato paste (or ketchup if you run out of it!)
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
TO MAKE THE BROTH
Heat the oil in a casserole. Fry the meat on high heat until brown.
Add the onion, the carrot, the garlic and the celery all diced. Add 1 tsp of salt a 1 tsp of pepper.
Fry for 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and fry for further 2 minutes.
Add the dill roughly chopped, the bay leaves and 3 liters of water. Let simmer for 3 hours.
Drain with a colander and put the broth in a container-let it cool completely and put into the refrigerator until the fats become cold and hard. Retain the fat and keep in a air tight container (you will use it for the second part).
NOTE: if you want to use the broth straight ahead, then skim the fat off as much as you can and use 3 tbs of olive oil to fry the vegetables when you make the borsch.
Separate and clean the meat and the vegetables and cut the meat into small pieces (discard the vegetables). Keep the meat in a container (or freeze it along with the broth), until you make the borsch.
TO MAKE BORSCH
Now, melt in a casserole half of the fat retained from the broth (or the olive oil). Fry the onion, the garlic, the carrot and the celery (all finely sliced) for 7/8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, fry for further 2 minutes.
Add the meat (retained from the broth), and the remaining grated vegetables (beetroots, celery root, carrots and cabbage), fry for a couple of minutes and add the broth. Simmer for 20 minutes (or until the vegetables are cooked through).
NOTE: The vegetables must be cooked and still compact, a sort of ‘al dente’, be careful not to overcook them.
Now add little by little the vinegar enough to balance the sweetness of the vegetables (you will need approximately 1/4 of a cup – but all is depending on your taste, add it little by little to make sure you reach the sourness you like – I like it sour).
Serve in individual soup bowl, accompanied by a tbs of sour cream and a pinch of freshly chopped dill.