Borsh or Red Beet Soup
With the approach of colder weather, soups and hearty meat dishes are back in season. Borsch is and has been my family’s most favorite soup, ever since I can remember. We like our borsch thick and hearty, full of root vegetables, meat and of course vitamins. Pretty much every Slavic woman knows how to make borsch, and in essence we all use the same ingredients, but no two women will make the same tasting borsch. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is.
When my mom was teaching me how to make borsch, the first thing she told me was that it had to be red. Not pink, but red. She also said that all good housewives know how to make red borsch. One of her first jobs after high school was working in a diner, so she knew a thing or two about making borsch the right way. There are several ways of preparing the beets for this soup (cooking whole beets in water, roasting beets wrapped in foil, shredding beets first and cooking them in a skillet), but one thing that you have to remember no matter which way you make them, is to never boil them once added to the soup. If you do that, you will never get your borsch to be the true red it’s supposed to be.
Also, if you’re pressed for time, or just don’t like working with fresh beets, you can use canned (just make sure they’re not pickled) beets with no problem. The last picture of borsch in this post, shows borsch made with canned beets.
So here we go…
- 4 quarts water
- 1.5 lbs beef chuck
- 6 medium sized yellow potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch cubes
- 1 large onion, peeled, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled, grated
- 2-3 medium sized beets, peeled, grated
- 1 can peeled tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can beans (black eyed peas)
- 1 bell pepper, seeded, diced
- Oil for frying
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 4 tbsp flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp dill, chopped
- Place meat into the pot with water and cook over medium heat, until fork tender, about 2-3 hours. All throughout the cooking process, skim the water from impurities that float to the top.
- Once the meat is tender, remove it from the pot and shred to small pieces.
- Salt the water.
- Add diced potatoes to the beef broth (water in which the meat was cooking) and cook on medium heat until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, In a large skillet with 2-3 tbsp oil, fry the onions until slightly golden over medium high heat. Add carrots and bell pepper and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Add grated beets, chopped tomatoes, stir, cover with lid and lower the heat to low. Allow to cook, adding water from the pot with potatoes as needed, until beets are soft, about 7-8 minutes minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, add shredded meat and beans. Bring to boil.
- Add the beet mixture to the pot, bring to boil and turn off right away.
- Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Add parsley & dill & ground black pepper.
- For optimal flavor, allow flavors to mend for 20-30 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot, with dollop of sour cream.
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