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Autumn Borscht

There are more versions of borscht than I can list or even know about, most of the recipes originating from various Eastern European countries. Hot or cold, as a drink or as a soup over hot potatoes, or as a warm meaty stew, borscht is one of the most argued-over dishes. People are often consumed with the question of “what is the REAL original recipe?”, so here’s what I think: I’m a cook, not an archaeologist, and I couldn’t care less whether Russians would use caraway seeds in borscht! This recipe is delicious and very autumnal; enjoy!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 Tablespoons of grape-seed oil (or/and butter)
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head of garlic, thinly sliced/minced
  • Generous pinch of caraway seeds
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 yukon potatoes, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch red beets, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups water (approximately)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 of a squeezed lemon (juice)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped parsley and/or dill & beet greens
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt to serve

Directions: heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions, and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and beets. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften. Add the water, salt, sugar, vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the greens and lemon juice, simmer for a minute, and then add black pepper to taste.
Serve warm with fresh dill and sour cream.

Chef’s tips: Please feel comfortable to measure very approximately. This is a rustic village-style dish and exactness is not necessary. You can make it more soupy or more stew-like depending on how much water you add. This recipe can easily be adapted to be made with beef (Jews: without the sour cream of course!). You can brown small pieces of beef stew on the side and throw them in at the same time as you add the beets.

Serves 4 as main course, 6 as an appetizer

Photograph by Itta Werdiger Roth

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