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Post by Chilli-head on 25th February 2015, 8:19 pm

I may have mentioned that my FIL is Ukranian by birth, having settled in the UK after WW2.  His wife (now passed on) was from Kent.  One of the things I always admired her for was the way in which she made him feel at home by taking interest in and embracing aspects of Ukranian culture.  Her embroidery was often of traditional Ukranian motifs, she made traditional blouses for her daughters and grandchildren, and even joined in with Ukranian dancing.  She visited FIL's homeland with him when he was able to return after the fall of the Soviet Union, and whilst there joined the old women shelling beans for winter storage.  "No, you don't have to help", they told her, "this is work for grandmothers !".  "Well I am a grandmother too !" was her response.

Anyway, this recipe is utterly authentic, from a Ukranian cookbook MIL used, though not to be taken too rigidly; it is a good dish in winter, adapted to use what is in storage - bottled tomatoes. cabbages that have been hung upside down in the outhouse, stored beets, and some of those dried beans. 

Standard Borsch
1 1/2 lb soup meat with bone

10 - 12 cups cold water
1 tsp salt
1 onion, chopped
2 medium beetroot, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 potato, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup diced string beans or cooked white beans
2-3 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup sieved tomatoes
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbl flour
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper
chopped dill
1/2 cup sour cream (optional, to serve)

Cover the meat with water, add salt, bring to the boil, skim. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Add onion and beets, cook for 10-15 minutes or until the beets are almost done.  Add carrot, potato celery. and string beans - continue coking for about 10 minutes. When cooked white beans are used, they should be added after the cabbage is cooked to retain their white colour.  Finally put in the cabbage and cook until tender. Don't overcook.  Stir in the the tomatoes and crushed garlic. Blend the flour with 3 tablespoons of cold water, spoon in some of the soup liquid, then stir it into the borsch.  (Omit the flour if a thick soup is not wanted).  Add lemon juice to taste - a good borsch should be pleasantly tart but not sour.  Season with salt and pepper, and bring to boiling point. Flavour with dill, and serve with a swirl of the sour cream, if desired, just before serving.
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Post by Ploshkin on 26th February 2015, 8:42 pm

Well, I have always thought that borsch was just beetroot soup (which I find earthy). This recipe looks like my kind of soup (like Welsh cawl).
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Post by freebird on 27th February 2015, 8:17 am

I wish I liked beetroot. Tried it in many guises - soup, chutney etc but can't stand the taste.
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Post by Dandelion on 27th February 2015, 4:37 pm

Reading this thread reminded me that many years ago Mr D and I were invited out for a meal with some friends. We had borsch to start with, and later on were served blackberry and apple crumble, which my husband greeted with 'Oh look - borsch pudding'. It may have been the last time we were invited there...

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 27th February 2015, 5:36 pm

Ploshkin wrote:Well, I have always thought that borsch was just beetroot soup (which I  find earthy).  This recipe looks like my kind of soup (like Welsh cawl).

There is quite a mix of veg in there, and the taste is quite sweet with all those roots. The celery adds a bit of warmth - in winter we substitute celeriac for the warming celery flavour.

I must ask FIL what Borsch or Borscht (depending on how the cyrillic is transliterated) actually means literally. The aforementioned Ukranian cookbook has several recipies, some with regular beetroot, some with young spring beets, and some with no beetroot at all, but ... cucumbers ! Some use Kvass, a fermented rye flour decoction to add sourness, which sounds alarming.
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Post by TamaraNicole on 27th February 2015, 9:23 pm

Well, CH, we do have a bit in common. My Grandfather was born in ukrain. He used to make borscht. We love it here! I use his own recipe. Doesn't involve celery but has lots of added pepper flakes! My grandpa liked it hot! And i like the sour cream...
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