From Russia With Love -- Borscht

"Everything I do, I do on the principle of Russian Borsch. You can throw everything into it beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, everything you want. What's important is the result, the taste of the borscht.” –Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet

I thought that Russian beet soup - Borscht (aka: borsht, barszcz, and borshch) was the ultimate Russia dish. But upon further research, I found out that it is the traditional dish of Ukrainia. But borscht has traveled as far and as wide as immigrants from the former Republics of the U.S.S.R. – and with many variations. It can be made with (or without) carrots, onions, salo (that’s pork fat), tomatoes, coriander seed, cabbage, potatoes, and various kinds of meat.

Sometimes borscht is thick, sometimes it’s thin. Sour cream is optional, but beetroots are usually not! And it is often served with vodka. In a James Meek’s fascinating article The Story of Borshch (The Guardian, 15 March 2008) , I read that the borscht comes from the Slav word for hogweed -- “borschchevik”. Well, I rather sup on borscht that hogweed -- no matter how delicious. Do you have a favorite recipe for borscht? Please share it with us. Meanwhile you can check out a few recipes in these cookbooks –

A year of Russian feasts Catherine Cheremeteff Jones – see p. 25-27 where the beet soup features lots of white cabbage, tomato juice, and beets (of course).
Please to the table: the Russian cookbook by Anya von Bremzen. On p. 62-64 we have a recipe for Classic Ukrainian Borscht with a rick stock meaty stock and some chopped dried prunes. (yes - there is cabbage and beets and potatoes too)

The art of Russian cuisine by Anne Volokh devotes 7 pages to borscht – with recipes from Kiev, Odessa, Poltava, the Ukraine, and something called Volynski Borshch that throws in smoked Polish style sausages.
For the non-beet lover, there is a Green Borshch recipe in The Russian heritage cookbook by Lynn Visson. She claims this is very traditional and insists it is a kind of borscht.

- Karen S.


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