WHAT IS BORSCHT?
Borshch (Borscht, Borsch – all three names can be equally used) is a famous all over the world Ukrainian dish. It is a vegetable soup with red beets that usually includes more than 10 ingredients. Borshch (Borscht) and Varenyky are well known symbols of Ukrainian cuisine.
Everyday Borshch is simpler and consists of fewer ingredients. It could be prepared on meat broth or fish broth or just vegetable broth. Ukrainian people added stewed onion with some fat and meshed garlic to everyday Borshch. On holidays and Sundays, it was served with sour cream. Special was the ritual Borshch that was made for weddings and funerals. The whole process of preparing this very symbolic dish was like magic.
WHERE IS BORSCHT FROM
Borshch is the everyday and ritual dish in Slavic cuisine. It is known from early Kyiv Rus times but it was prepared by Slav people much more time ago, on the territories of modern Ukraine. So that’s why Borshch isn’t a Russian dish because it has been known much earlier before Moskoviya (Russia) was founded. Additionally, the territories of those times Russia were not rich agricultural lands, only muds and woods with berries and wild plants, so a long time primitive gathering was spread there without ingredients for a real true Borshch.
The first documented mention of the Ukrainian borscht was left by the merchant Martin Gruneweg in 1584.
Martin Gruneweg was a German from Danzig (Gdańsk) and had lived in Lviv for a long time. That year, Gruneweg travelled from Lviv to Moscow and left a detailed description of that trip. On October 17, 1584, a merchant’s group arrived in Kyiv and spent the night near the Borshchivka River in Kyiv. Locals stayed that the name of the river came from the borscht bazaar, which was located in the area.
However, his attention was drawn to the story that the ancient city of Kyiv had so a big size, stretching from the Dnipro River to Borshchivka. Gruneweg did not believe that Kyiv was so large and it was necessary to go so far for Borshch at the price of one pfennig.
He could not also believe that Borsch was not sold anywhere else in Kyiv:
“Besides, Ruthenians rarely or never buy Borscht, because everyone cooks it at home, because it is their daily food and drink.”
The phrase about food and drink unequivocally characterizes borsch as a first course, and everyday indicates the spread of the dish among the population of that time.
In 1598, the famous Orthodox polemicist Ivan Vyshenskyi wrote about peasants who “sip polyvka or Borschik” from one bowl.
The ancient version of this ethnic Ukrainian soup was made of a plant called Borshchivnyk, and probably from this the name of a dish is Borshch (from Slav бърщь, brshch). Nowadays the main ingredient of the dish borscht is a beetroot and it gives a special rosy red colour to it.
There are different types of Borshch and the way to prepare it differs from region to region and in every family, there is a unique recipe. There are three main types of Borshch. The first is the real Ukrainian Borshch that is the most popular. The second is Green Borshch that is made in Spring and Summer when there are new plants. And the last is Cold Borshch also known as Holodnyk that is made usually during hot summer and is served cold. There are a lot of different ingredients added to Borshch but the most common were broth, red beets, cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, beans, onion, garlic, and Beet Kvass.
The traditional Ukrainian Borshch is cooked without potatoes and tomatos because these aren’t the Ukrainian ethnical foods. People got used to adding potato to Borshch from the XIX century because there was no potato in Ukraine before this time.
“In Ukraine potato was first planted in 1805 in Kharkiv Region. Cossacks knew potatoes, but as a trophy, which they acquired in the campaigns. On the territory of the Ukrainian Carpathians potato came from the Austrian Empire and a long time was not perceived by the local population. Hutsuly liked freedom very much and were afraid of the possibility that potato was a way to tie them to the ground and make them farmers. They began to cultivate it at the end of the nineteenth century.” – the traditional ethnic cuisine Etnocook
Also in ancient times no tomatoes or acids were added. In Borshch was added homemade Beet Kvass that is a very healthy and tasty beverage.
WHAT DOES BORSCHT TASTE LIKE
As Ukrainian Borshch is made of a lot of ingredients, it combines different tastes. As the main ingredient in this classic Slavic first course dish is beetroot, it will have a natural sweet taste. Actually, this unique first course is at the same time sweet and sour, and sometimes spicy.
In fact, everything depends on ingredients and seasoning. Yes, additional beetroot kvass, sorrel leaves, or sauerkraut cabbage will add a sour taste to your Borshch. Such spices as black pepper and mashed garlic can make it spicy. And if you serve it with traditional Ukrainian fermented milk products and sauces like sour cream, soured milk, or ryazhanka, your Borshcht will have an additional soft and sour taste.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BORSHCH
Borshch is so very special Ukrainian dish that means to Ukrainian people a lot. For example, in Washington, USA, on March 6, 1953, the waitress at the restaurant “1203” Eileen Keenan was inviting everyone to enjoy “Free Borshch” in celebration of the Soviet Union’s dictator Joseph Stalin‘s death.
In fact, Ukrainian cuisine is so great that is famous all over the world. For example, in Japan healthy, nutrient, and light dishes are widely spread, and Ukrainian vegetable soup Borshch with sour cream becomes more and more popular. By the way, the Ukrainian red beetroot soup Borshch (Borscht, Borsch) will be added to the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by the UN specialized agency UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
“The Association of retailers of Ukraine appealed to the most famous chefs of Ukraine on the borscht recipe, which can be considered a classic. Since borsch recipes are many and they differ in many regions of our country, then find a classic soup, which was prepared by our ancestors is an important task,” – said the Ministry of culture of Ukraine.
In fact, Ukrainian cuisine is so great that is famous all over the world. For example, in Japan healthy, nutrient and light dishes are widely spread and Ukrainian vegetable soup Borshch with sour cream becomes more and more popular.
HOW TO MAKE BORSCHT
- for Borshch take clean filtered or natural water. The traditional Ukrainian cuisine Etnocook assures that the real secret ingredient is pure spring water. Just try it, and you'll see the difference!
- prepare all vegetables in low heat in a pot with a closed lid
- beets can be stewed separately with a little amount of Beet Kvass and vegetable oil before adding the broth. Then put them to all other ingredients in 10 minutes before the end of cooking
- the best meat for Borshch is fat beef with bones
- usually in Borshch dried white mushrooms are added but You can take any other dried mushrooms
- the whole red pepper not cut can be put in broth at the beginning of cooking and removed at the end before serving
- garlic can also be meshed with a slice of fat bacon and added to the prepared Borshch
How Long Does Borscht Last?
- an ethnic red beet soup Borsch tastes better if it rests for an hour after cooking
- store the traditional Ukrainian soup Borshch in the refrigerator for three days
- taste your dish every time before reheating
- meatless Borshch with acids like Beet Kvass, sauerkraut cabbage, can last up to five days
- cooked and frozen at -15°C (5°F) Ukrainian Borshch can be kept in a freezer for up to 3 months
- beef - 500 g
- dried mushroom - 10 g
- red beet - 200 g
- beet kvass - 100 ml
- cabbage - 200 g
- carrot - 100 g
- onion - 75 g
- garlic - to taste
- spicy red pepper - 1
- dried beans - 50 g
- water - 4000 ml
- salt - to taste
- sugar - to taste
- sour cream - to taste
- black pepper - to taste
- bay leaf - 2
- dill - to taste
Traditional Ukrainian Borscht with Meat and Cabbage step-by-step Recipe
1. Prepare all ingredients for Borshch, bowls, plates and utensils. Wash and peel vegetables. Etnocook recommends taking only the best high quality foods and keeping all the surfaces extra clean while cooking. 2. In two deep bowls put separately dried beans and dried mushrooms, add water to the top level to cover ingredients and leave them for 4 hours (During this time the broth would be preparing). 3. Wash the fat meat with bones, put it in a large pot and fill with four litters of cold water, bring on high heat to a boil, reduce to a small fire and cook for about 2 hours, all the while removing the broth foam from the top. Then separate the meat from the bones, cut into portions pieces and put them on a separate plate, bone broth cook with bones on low heat for another 2 hours. At the end of the cooking, broth should be 2-2.5 litters, which means it reduces by half. Strain the ready broth through cheesecloth, take out the bones. Wash the pot, put the clean broth into a clean pot and make a low heat. 4. Cut the onion into two pieces and put one piece into warm frying pan for two-three minutes. 5. Put the fried onion in the Broth for special flavour at the beginning of preparing Borshch. 6. Drain the water and put wet beans in broth, cook on low heat. 7. Cut red beet by segments and then by straws. 8. Put cut red beets in the broth, do it in 15 minutes after beans. 9. Cut carrot in slices and then in small pieces. 10. Add cut carrot to all other ingredients in the pot in 5 minutes after beet. 11. Drain the water and cut wet mushrooms into small pieces. 12. Add mushrooms to Borshch in 15 minutes after the carrot. 13. Chop cabbage into slices and then in squares. 14. Put chopped cabbage in Borshch in 5 minutes after mushrooms. 15. Thinly slice cooked beef and then cut in little cubes. 16. Add meat to Borshch in 15 minutes after cabbage. 17. Take onion and bay leaf from Borshch. Add garlic, red pepper, salt and sugar to taste. Cook all ingredients 15 minutes on low heat. 18. Add Beet Kvass to Borshch. Switch off heat, close the pot and put in warm place for 1 hour. 19. Serve Portion of Borshch in a clay pot. 20. Cut dill. Serve Borshcht hot with greens and traditional Ukrainian fermented milk products and sauces like sour cream, soured milk, or ryazhanka to taste.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BORSCHT
The traditional Ukrainian Borsch is served hot in bowls, sometimes inside a bread bowl. Often a tablespoon of sour cream and chopped greens are added. On holidays little handmade pasta filled with mushrooms, cabbage, or fish called Vushka is added.
HOW TO EAT BORSCHT
Eating red beetroot Ukrainian Soup Borshcht in Western Culture
A long time ago Ukrainianі cooked Borshch in ecological clay pots and ate from handmade pottery bowls with the help of wooden spoons.
Nowadays, serve an ethnic red beet soup in any deep bowl you like. Actually, you can also see Borshcht served in soup cups, but it’s often a light version called Borshchok and it consists of very chopped vegetables inside.
Etnocook also draws your attention to modern handmade clay ceramic soup bowls made of eco-friendly natural materials.
For formal events serve the traditional Ukrainian soup Borshch in shallow soup bowls with underplates.
Stir the sour cream with Borsch in the bowl and wait until the soup cools down a little. Eat Borscht with the biggest soup spoon that is usually placed far right of the dinner setup.
Eating Ukrainian Soup Borshch in Eastern Culture
Serve the Ukrainian Borshcht in an individual little deep bowl that is comfortable to pick up. Use chopsticks to pick up all meat and vegetables and then slurp your soup.