Does anybody else instantly begin pinning soup recipes as soon as the leaves start turning orange? It’s fascinating the way seasons were created; nothing like too much heat to make you miss cooler weather! I’m even missing the rain because this August in the Northwest has been a scorcher much like June and July! (And no, it isn’t because I’m in the Northwest that I’m needing the rain back!)
I love soup. It’s hearty, mostly healthy, and satisfying on a cool day. Hot soup can help ease a sore throat, it can be the perfect meal for dieters, and even pregnant women who are feeling queasy getting solid foods down. What better way to get a full serving of vegetables into your kids than a hot cup of soup and sandwich? Soup or broth can get nutrients into folks who are post surgery, too, and not allowed to take down solids yet. In other words, soup is awesome and has many uses.
The other great thing about soup is that it’s so versatile and so easy to whip up on a whim. Got some random veggies you have no idea what to do with? Make a soup! Celery, carrots, onions, kale, cabbage – toss it in! It’s one of those meals you don’t have to make a trip to the grocery store for. All you have to do is open your pantry and get creative. A rough chop and a quick stir and you have yourself dinner!
In Slavic cuisine, one of the most famous dishes is delicious red borscht. Its origin is Ukraine, but it is a popular dish in Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian cuisine. It’s a hearty soup that can be made vegetarian (as was usually the case for my family growing up) or more traditionally it will include beef chunks. Its distinct bright red color and unique taste sets it apart from any soup I have ever tried, and makes Russian borscht the ultimate winter soup in our home.
Once the farms in the area open up for pumpkin picking season, my husband, the kids, and I are off on a weekend adventure to the local farms to pick up some incredibly fresh vegetables. Beets, potatoes, tomatoes, and fresh cabbage are the must have veggies to purchase, and nothing tastes as good as fresh dill so we always grab a huge bunch of dill and extra tomatoes and mini cucumbers for canning later (and because dill can be used in almost everything for a flavor enhancement).
This red borscht recipe is the one my mom always used to make for us when we were kids, except I’ve added a few tweaks of my own. As a kid, during lunch or dinner with my family I remember topping my bowl with more sour cream than anyone, and even spreading sour cream on a piece of rustic toast! My dad would take bites of fresh garlic with each spoonful of borscht, which the rest of us quickly caught onto because the spice of the garlic with the soothing soup was an exquisite combination. On the dining table we would commonly serve traditional pilaf or plov, with a variety of salads and drinks. Once our plates were empty, mom brought her delicious Russian honey cake to the table, and we would enjoy it with some hot tea. I’m very fond of my childhood memories, and mom’s borscht was always a hit!
Ukrainian/Russian Red Borscht– What You Need:
3 Russet Potatoes- chopped
3 Tomatoes- peeled and grated
1/2 Red Onion-chopped
2 Cans Tomato Sauce
1 lb Beef (Top Sirloin)- chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 Small Head Cabbage-chopped
1 Bunch Dill-chopped
4 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
How To Make Red Borscht:
I know this list of ingredients seems like a lot, especially for soup, but trust me when I tell you that this is a simple recipe that you absolutely must try! Most of the ingredients you can find at a farmer’s market or grocery store, but the one item on the list you may have some trouble locating is the Vegeta seasoning. Sometimes the World Market and Target carry this spice, but if you still can’t find it in store, you can order it from Amazon.com. Omitting this seasoning is not going to “make or break” your borscht, but it does truly add a lovely taste.
In a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil and sauté the chunks of beef sirloin until browned. Remove from sauce pan and add in the onions, carrots, and beets and sauté. To grate the tomatoes I just cut them in half and grate until there is only skin left. Alternatively you may blanch the tomatoes and peel the skins, then grate the tomatoes. Add the grated tomato in with the other vegetables and pour in the two cans of tomato sauce and sauté. Throw the beef back in and mix together with the vegetables.
Meanwhile bring a large pot with water to a boil. Season with salt, black pepper, sugar, and Vegeta seasoning and add cubed potatoes. When the potatoes are halfway done, add the vegetables and beef into the large pot and mix. And when the potatoes are nearly done, add in the grated/shredded cabbage. Top with another 2 tbsp of butter, dill, and taste for salt seeing if you need more seasoning. Add a bay leaf and let simmer until the cabbage is done.
This is your chance to get the table ready, wash the kiddo’s hands, toast some bread, or heat up some garlic bread in the oven (YUM!) The traditional topping is a dollop of sour cream, some prefer mayonnaise. I’d also recommend topping the borscht with fresh dill.
I hope you try out this recipe and give this delicious classic Ukrainian / Russian soup a go! Thanks for reading!