Traditional Ukrainian Borscht:
Traditional Ukrainian Borscht is a delicious and hearty soup that has been a staple of Ukrainian cuisine for centuries. Made with a variety of vegetables, meat, and a tangy beetroot base, borscht is a wholesome and nutritious meal that is perfect for cold winter nights or any time of year. In this blog post, we will explore the history and cultural significance of Ukrainian borscht and provide a traditional recipe for you to try at home.
Borscht is believed to have originated in Ukraine, where it has been a part of the national cuisine for over 500 years. The word “borscht” is derived from the Ukrainian word “borshch”, which means “beet soup”. The soup was traditionally made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, onions, and meat, and was often served with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of bread.
Borscht has played an important role in Ukrainian culture and is often served at family gatherings and holidays. It is also a popular dish in neighboring countries like Russia, Poland, and Belarus, where it has been adapted to local tastes and ingredients.
My family is not Ukrainian however my brother married a traditional Ukrainian girl many years ago and as I have said before, my mother learned to make many of the traditional recipes for her, and she showed me how to make many as well. My family loves every recipe I have learned and even though they are made with simple ingredients and methods, they are still delicious. My daughter has become quite the expert at peresky, which is a traditional Ukrainian dish that is small, let’s say tiny buns that are filled with a potato and cheese (cottage cheese), dill filling then baked. Once they are baked they are smothered in a creamy dill sauce and baked again, this time in the sauce to reheat. They are rich and delicious and once you taste them you’ll wonder where they’ve been all your life. Borscht is another traditional dish that my family has enjoyed for years and along with borscht you will often find traditional pierogies of many varieties. You can find my basic pierogi recipe here
Beef Broth or Vegetable Broth for your Borscht?
If you want to make a traditional borscht you would use beef broth, including making your broth from scratch by boiling beef bones in water, creating a broth, then using that broth for the soup. Borscht can absolutely be made with vegetable broth, making it vegetarian, just make sure you either make your own veggie broth or buy a good quality one with lots of flavor. Most of the flavor in this soup comes from the broth, so this is important.
Beets, Sliced, diced or shredded?
How you decided to cut your beets is a very personal decision. My mom always shredded her beets, so that is what I do. However, a small diced beet would also work in this preparation. If you choose to cook the borscht over a longer time, like in a crockpot, then you could use a much larger beet dice to prevent them from totally disentigrating. It is totally up to you, so do what works for you. On an added note, while I used to turn my hands purple shredding beets by hand, I now have a food process with a shredding attachment, so that’s what I use. It shreds perfectly and my hands stay clean! Just a quick tip for you.
- 1 Large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot
- 3 Tbs bacon fat (or oil of choice)
- 1 med onion, diced small
- 3 ribs celery, diced small
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 10 cups Beef Broth (homemade or store bought)
- 3 large Beets, peeled and grated or julienned *You can use a food processor
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small * I used mini creamer potatoes cut into ¼'s
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- ¼ head cabbage, shredded with a knife * my preferred method
- 4 Tbsp white vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh dill, measure after chopping fine *plus more for garnish
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Sour Cream (for serving-Optional)
- In your dutch oven over med-hi heat, add the bacon fat or oil of choice.
- Once it is hot, add the prepared onions, carrots and celery and 1 Tsp kosher salt and cook until the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for a further minute.
- pour the beef broth into the pot, stirring until the tomato paste has dissolved.
- Add in the shredded cabbage, shredded or julienned beets, minced garlic and the diced potatoes, cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.
- once the potatoes are cooked, add the vinegar, chopped dill, black pepper and taste for additional salt. Add it if needed.
- Simmer for an additional 5 minutes then taste to see if seasoning needs to be adjusted. You can add a tsp of sugar, or more vinegar if needed. Also salt and pepper to your taste.
- Serve the borscht with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill on top