Hello, Lovelies and Matryoshkas! Today in Pennsylvania we are having yet another snowstorm, and what better way to keep warm during any snowy day than to enjoy having a warm bowl of borscht. Borscht is a traditional Russian and Eastern European dish that has the reputation for being gross to some, or super tasty to others. I absolutely love the borscht my mother-in-law makes, and her recipe is both authentic and flavourful. There are many renditions of borscht on the internet, but in my opinion, this recipe that has been handed down to me is one of the best you will ever taste, and it is not at all that hard to make. I have made this dish several times and have just recently made it again for my husband. I will mention that anytime I leave the bay leaves in the soup and my husband gets one in his bowl he always exclaims “I got a letter from Moscow”; apparently bay leaves are a Russian joke that someone in Moscow is thinking of you/sending you a letter.
Now before you create this version of borscht, keep in mind that the beet flavour (which is often sweet) should not overpower the rest of the ingredients, and that is where the lemon juice will come in handy. By adding the lemon juice to julienned beet (while it is lightly frying), the lemon juice will help preserve the beets beautiful red colour (so your soup will appear red and vibrant), while adding a zesty note. This recipe is really all about a balance of flavours, so do not forget to read the instructions carefully, and if the soup happens to be too sweet, as my mother-in-law has advised just add a little more freshly squeezed lemon juice. What I love most about this recipe is that it is great for either winter or summer months. Did you know beets are considered a superfood? Anyway, you will also notice how the ingredient list uses a lot of root vegetables, and that is because root vegetables could hold well throughout a Ukrainian and Russian winter. Also, beets can stain your hands, but will wash away…I typically do not mind, but if you do you could wear gloves while peeling and chopping them. Now onto the get recipe:
-400 g chicken (breast or thighs)
-4 medium potatoes
-half a head of white cabbage (Tip: To save time from buying and shredding cabbage (you can buy undressed coleslaw packages that have a blend of cabbage and carrots)
-1 medium carrot
-1 medium beet
-1 medium onion
-1 sweet red pepper
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 tablespoons of
tomato paste-3-5 Tablespoons of an oil of your choice for frying.
-Serve with sour cream (optional but sour cream is often served with most Russian recipes, and for borscht by adding a dollop to the soup will change the flavour, but that is optional)
Directions below 🙂
-Place the chicken in a deep pot, cover with water and boil. Season the broth with salt and skim the foam that begins to float to the surface. The broth must be “clean”, after this step you can reduce the heat to low and cook the meat until it is tender. Next, you can start to wash and peel the beet, then julienne chop it!
-Cut the cabbage into thin strips (or skip this step if you have pre-packaged coleslaw shredded cabbage)
-Cut the potatoes into small cubes
-Begin to dice the onion
-Cut the carrot into thin strips/ or into rounds, depending on preference.
-Next In a frying pan pour 3-4 tablespoons of oil, you will then combine both the onion and carrots together. Simmer them, while stirring occasionally over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and simmer for 1 minute.
-In a separate frying pan simmer the beets, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (this is how you will preserve the red colour from the beet)
-When the meat is almost cooked, put potatoes and cabbage in the broth, cook for 10 minutes.
-Then add the fried onion, carrots and beets to the broth.
-Salt to taste, add bay leaf aka letters from Moscow, black pepper and sweet red pepper cut into small pieces.
-Cook the borscht over low heat for an additional 5-7 minutes.
-Add parsley and minced garlic, (and in my case sometimes I like to add chopped scallions on top if I do not have fresh parsley available)
-Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let it sit for 20 minutes, then you can enjoy this wonderful soup.