Thursday, February 13, 2014

Recipe of the week: Russian Borscht Soup

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, I thought I would explore the history and culture of Russian cuisine.  

Russian cuisine is diverse as Russia is by area, the largest country in the world.  It's foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate with a combination of plentiful items such as fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries and honey.  Crops of wheat, rye and barley, provide the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, and of course vodka. 

Russia's great expansion of culture in the 16th-18th centuries brought more refined foods and cooking techniques.  It was during this period that smoked meats and fish, salads and green vegetables were imported from abroad.

Many dishes that are common in the US derived from Russia and include, Beef Stroganoff, Cabbage Rolls, Chicken Kiev and Pierogis.

One of my favorite Russian staples is beets.  Borscht is a soup from Ukrainian origin that is popular throughout Russia and other European countries.  It is made with beetroot as the main ingredient.  In some countries, tomato is used along with beets.  The soup can be served hot or cold, and typically after cooling the soup down, sour cream, milk or yogurt may be added.  Also raw chopped vegetables such as radish and cucumber and even chopped, hard boiled eggs are added.  The soup has a pink color which varies in intensity depending on the ratio of beets to dairy ingredients.


Russian Borscht Soup


2 cups chopped fresh beets
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef broth (may us vegetarian broth)
1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped cabbage
salt and pepper 
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
sour cream, optional
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped


In a large saucepan, combine the beets, carrots, onion and broth; brind to a boil.  Reduce the heat.  Cover and sinner for 30 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cabbage; cover and dimmer for 30 minutes or until cabbage in tender.  Stir in salt, pepper and dill.  

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and one tablespoon egg, if desired.

Note: for thicker soup, blend two cups of soup in a blender or food processor, then add back to your soup base.

Serves 8

Both image and recipe courtesy of Google