Yesterday’s snow had me craving warm comfort food more than ever. When we were out running errands, I made sure to grab any needed ingredients so that I could make some of our favorite: Borsch and Pelmeni.
The majority of people that I talk to don’t really know what borsch is, or Ukrainian food in general. Perfectly normal for our geographical location. So I usually explain. “It’s a soup that has cabbage and beets in it, but also it’s somewhat tomato based.” I know, what? It’s just as hard to imagine as it is to explain, I’m sure.
I remember being confused about the food in Ukraine before I moved there. Everything that people described to me sounded very weird, yet they all seemed to say that they loved it. How could that be? Well, I have no answers. It’s just good, okay. We continue to eat it as often as possible and we are constantly looking for ways to improve/change up our methods.
Borsch can be a pretty time consuming depending on how you make it. There are without a doubt hundreds of recipes out there on how to prepare just this one soup. Everyone has their own preferences and techniques, and even I change it up almost every time that I make it. Yesterday was no exception. I knew that I was making pelmeni as well, which has meat in it, so I decided to omit the meat in the soup and try something new. I ended up making a very quick and simple borsch that I adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen recipe. (I’m slightly obsessed with her blog!) If you’re curious how I made mine, keep reading!
I apologize, it was overcast and snowy all day so our lighting suffered, which isn’t helpful when I need quality iPhone photos. If you are needing more photos for clarification, check out the recipe that I linked above.
The main ingredients are pictured above. I set out a bunch of veggies we had that I thought I might use. I didn’t end up using all the potatoes. I had a can of sliced beets already, otherwise I would have bought fresh beets. I like the bags of them that they sell at Trader Joes, just fyi.
// What you need //
8 cups of water
2 Tbsp of chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)
1 large potato
1/2 a head of cabbage
1 large beet or 2 small beets (I used the whole can of sliced beets)
approx 3/4 cup of grated carrots (2 regular sized carrots should do it)
1 bell pepper
4oz can of tomato sauce
2 large bay leaves
a bunch of fresh dill
lemon juice or vinegar for some flavor
salt and pepper
sour cream (add in)
// Directions //
While the water and chicken base come to a low boil in a large pot, I cut up all the vegetables. Peel and cube the potato. Peel and grate the carrots and beets. (If you use canned beets, just slice them into strips.) Chop the 1/2 a onion and bell pepper to small pieces. Thinly slice the cabbage, the thinner, the better.
Once the base and water comes to a boil, add the potatoes and simmer. Add the cabbage and bay leaves to the pot after about 5 minutes. While the potatoes are simmering, fry your onion, carrots, and beets in a large pan with some olive oil. I fry them until they appear to be fairly well cooked. Then, add the can of tomato sauce and continue to let it all fry together for about 5 minutes.
By this point, the potatoes and cabbage should almost be done cooking. I like to check on them often so that I don’t over cook the potatoes to mush. Add the pan of fried veggies and tomato sauce to the pot. Stir it all together. Add chopped dill, salt, pepper, and a splash or two of vinegar/lemon juice to add flavor.
// Serving //
I highly recommend adding a spoonful of sour cream to your personal bowl of borsch. Also, borsch is better on day two and three, so go for those leftovers! You won’t regret it.