First off, I am not claiming this is an authentic Russian Borscht recipe.
We were blessed to have a Russian exchange student,Yana, stay with us in 1996. When a neighbor asked her if she liked borscht, she said yes. But when our friend presented her with the bottled beet broth that is sold as borscht in America, her disappointment was obvious.
When we returned home, I asked her if she would teach me how to make real Russian borscht. She said that though she had helped her mother, she wasn’t entirely sure of how to do it. So I suggested we call her mother in Russia. We passed the phone around trying to piece together the recipe. My husband and Yana could both speak Russian and English, but were not fluent in cooking terms in either language. Yana’s mother did not speak very much English and my attempts at Russian always reduced Yana to giggles, so I am sure much was lost in translation.
Here’s what we came up with…
1 lb. stew meat, cut into very small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves minced
8 cups beef broth
2 cups beets, diced (I leave the skin on)
2 cups potatoes, diced (I leave the skin on)
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup carrots diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
pinch of salt
dash of pepper
1. Add oil, stew meat, onions, and garlic to a large stock pot. Cook over a medium heat until the meat is browned.
2. Add broth, vegetables, and spices. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Borscht is the ultimate “cellar recipe”. It is made primarily from cool weather vegetables that keep well in cold storage. Many of the veggies in this soup were harvested from my garden in the fall, but you can find them affordably priced in your local grocery stores.
Who else is still eating from the garden? Do you still have the cooler weather vegetables in your cellar or basement?