UPDATED 8 Sep 2019: Lightly edited text, clearer instructions — especially concerning the meat — and some better pictures, too!
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.
2011: 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.
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, or vice versa. Mine is heavier on carrot and beet and leaves out the peppers.
Український Борщ [Ukrainian Borshch], Tammela’s Version
- Meat of choice (I use 2-4 chicken drumsticks but many traditional recipes use pork)
- You could also add/replace meat with some white beans, or leave out the protein completely
- 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
- 3-4 small-medium potatoes, peeled & diced
- Oil (Ukrainians use sunflower oil, but canola/vegetable oil would work fine)
- 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
- for serving: dollop of sour cream; hunk of brown bread; peeled raw garlic clove(s)
- Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with water and add the meat.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer until the meat is mostly cooked (cooking time will depend on the kind of meat you use; chicken cooks fast). Partway through, add the sliced onion to the pot.
- When meat is mostly cooked, add the diced potatoes and keep simmering until the potatoes are cooked, 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of the cubes).
- Optional: at this point, you could take the meat (chicken drumsticks) out of the pot, remove their skins, and then return them. You could also opt to cut all of the meat off the bones and return the former to the pot, discarding skin and bones.
- Meanwhile, grate your carrot, beet, and tomato and saute for a few minutes in a pan with some oil.
- Add sautéed veggies to the pot and throw in the sliced 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.
P.S. Borshch tastes great reheated on the second day — some say even better than fresh!
If you have a borshch recipe or something similar, I’d love to hear your variations — just leave them in the comments section.