For me this is Russian Soul Food. The recipe is from my cousin, Anne. The first time I ate this soup, I was immediately transported back to my childhood. My Mom used to make hers just like this but then changed things up to suit my meat loving Dad! More a veggie soup than the typical beet soup, with beets added just for colour. I like to make this when the new crop beets, potatoes and cabbages are available. A tip: you can shred the cabbage and chop up the veggies the day before, place in the fridge until you are ready to making the borsch the next day. My husband doesn’t like beets, so I am not allowed to put beets in the soup! I solved the problem by roasting a beet for myself, grating it then adding to my bowl. Don’t forget the sour cream!
For the Borsch:
1 small cabbage, finely shredded
2 small beets, well scrubbed, not peeled
1 28 oz. tin Italian plum tomatoes
4 potatoes, approximately 2 lbs., peeled & cubed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 qts. (8) cups water
¼ cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 grated zucchini, grated
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
1 bay leaf, 1 Tbsp. parsley, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (see below)
1 tsp. salt & pepper
(opt.) Sour cream or yogurt
Make the Borsch:
Place water into a large pot; add the cubed potatoes, beets, bay leaf, 1 tsp. salt and garlic. Bring to a boil, place lid on the pot, turn down the heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the tomatoes, chop coarsely; then add to the pot containing the potatoes and their cooking water.
Melt the butter in a very large saucepan. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper, zucchini and carrots. Sauté until soft. Add half the cabbage, turning and combining with veggies, then add the remaining cabbage, stirring well. Add the tomatoes and combine. Cover, bring to a boil, turn heat to simmer and “sweat” veggies until tender.
Remove the potatoes from the tomato/potato cooking water, using a slotted spoon, placing them in a large, shallow dish; mash with 2 Tbsp. of butter. Add veggie mixture to the potatoes, along with some of the cooking water to loosen mixture. Add this mixture to the pot with the beets. Bring heat up to a boil but don’t let it boil. Add boiling water, thinning the soup as necessary. Sprinkle with lots of freshly ground pepper, parsley, and dill. Do not stir these ingredients in. Place lid on the soup. Turn the heat off under the soup, but leave on burner. Let the soup rest for 1 hour without lifting the lid. Note this is VERY IMPORTANT and is part of the “religion” of Borsch making. Before serving, remove the beets and discard. It’s very important that you do never boil the borscht just reheat gently until hot enough to serve.
Ladle the borsch into individual bowls, top with a nice dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
I hope you will make this soup and enjoy it as much as I do!
Helpful link to using and storing fresh dill. Using Fresh Herbs.