Serves 6 to 8
Borscht is the purple calling card of Russia and no introduction to Slavic cuisine is complete without it. It’s a challenge to nail down a definitive recipe for borscht since each region insists on its own ingredients. In some parts of Russia, borscht is incomplete without apples. In others, no borscht is considered authentic until you add red peppers. Play around with your own ideas, but don’t forget the rasol (pickle or sauerkraut juice) – it’s what gives borscht the essential sour taste as well as that rich colour!
4 large beets, peeled
Water from the beets
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, mashed
3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
2L beef, chicken or vegetable stock
300g meat (lamb, beef or a mixture of the three) sliced into 2cm matchsticks
125ml sauerkraut, coarsely chopped
3 large carrots, julienned into 2cm matchsticks
125ml rasol (pickle or sauerkraut juice)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of fresh dill
1 bunch of fresh parsley
Chopped fresh dill
1. Prepare the beets ahead of time: place them in a large pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until the beets are soft enough to pierce easily with a knife. Drain beets, retaining the water and let cool completely. Julienne the beets.
2. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.
3. Add the diced and dried lamb and beef, and brown gently. Then add the carrots, sauté briefly, cover and cook the mixture for 10 minutes.
4. Add the stock, 1L of the retained beet water, beets, tomatoes, and sauerkraut. Bring to a gentle boil.
5. Simmer on a low heat until the carrots are soft. Add the rasol and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
6. Season to taste, and add dill and parsley.
Borscht keeps for several days in the refrigerator, though it does not freeze well. Serve in a wide soup dish, garnished with sour cream or crème fraiche, chopped dill and scallions.