Let me preface this post by saying every Борщ (borshch) is different. Every Ukrainian has her own recipe/ratio of ingredients, and it rarely turns out the same twice. Some borshch has peppers. Some has a higher ratio of tomato to carrot/beet. Mine is rather carrot-y and lacks peppers.
Ukrainians keep asking me, “have you cooked borshch yet?” I’ve been meaning to, really, but just haven’t had all the ingredients on hand at the same time. I also haven’t been sure in what order to add ingredients. But after watching my host mom make green borshch (зелений борщ) from start to finish when I visited last week — see this post for details — I was assured of the steps and gained the confidence to try red borshch myself. (As far as I can tell, the main difference between red and green borshch is the latter’s lack of beets and slightly different ingredient set. Red borshch is what probably comes to mind when a non-Eastern European thinks of borshch.) Turns out, it’s really easy to make and of course delicious to eat.
April 2012 UPDATE: I made borshch again with a friend almost exactly one year after making it for the first time. It turned out really well, and I’ve updated the ingredient proportions below.
Український Борщ [Ukrainian Borshch], Tammela’s Version
- Meat of choice (I used two chicken drumsticks), or beans, or no protein at all
- 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
- 3-4 small-medium potatoes, peeled & diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled & grated
- 1 large or 2 small-medium beets, peeled & grated
- 1-2 small-medium tomatoes, grated/chopped
- 1-2 tbsp tomato paste (depending on how tomatoey you want your borshch to be)
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Fresh dill, chopped
- optional: a bunch of green onions, chopped
- Oil (Ukrainians use sunflower oil, but canola/vegetable oil would work fine)
- for serving: dollop of sour cream; hunk of brown bread; peeled raw garlic clove(s)
- Bring water with meat to a boil, and simmer until it’s mostly cooked (cooking time will depend on the kind of meat you use; chicken cooks fast). Partway through, add the sliced onion to the water.
- When meat is mostly cooked, add diced potatoes and keep simmering until potatoes are cooked, 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of the cubes).
- Meanwhile, grate your carrot, beet, and tomato and saute for a few minutes in a pan with some oil.
- Add sauteed veggies to the pot and throw in the cabbage, too.
- Salt and pepper to taste, add the dill and/or green onions, and let simmer for as long as you’d like. Serve with a dollop of sour cream (сметана), a hunk of brown bread (чорний хліб), and (if you’re really brave) a clove or two of peeled raw garlic.
If you have a borshch recipe or something similar, I’d love to hear your variations — just leave them in the comments section.