We have a friend who says this tastes like authentic Ukrainian borsch – and she should know, she’s from Chernivtsi.
Our Oddbox delivery has of late brought us veg we haven’t necessarily factored in to our current menu list, and the result has been a lot of beetroot that accumulated in the fridge. You can freeze beetroot, cooked or raw, though it should be cut into slices or small chunks prior to freezing, and borsch can be made using fresh or frozen beetroot.
Beetroot gives the soup a wonderful colour which contrasts well with the yogurt or sour cream topping that is added immediately before serving.
I never give specific quantities or ingredients with soup recipes because it depends on what you have to hand, and which flavours you really like (or dislike), also whether you’re hoping to produce a thick or a thinner soup as your end result.
The heating effect of borsch relies on chilli, so if you don’t especially like spicy food, substitute other milder spices, or use a vibrant herb such as fennel, or powdered fenugreek. A little chopped root ginger might also be a good one to try.
The version in the picture was made using onions, garlic, carrots, celery, leeks, shredded savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, parsnips, and, of course, beetroot. Vital ingredients from the stock cupboard were veg stock cubes, chipotle flakes and flaked chilli, as well as a liberal pinch of mixed herbs.
There is no need to peel any of the vegetables, just give them a good scrub, using a brush or a green scourer. Use a sharp pointed knife to take any really grotty bits out of the veg, and top and tail carrots and beetroot. You can give the soup a good varied texture by cutting or slicing the various vegetables to thicker or thinner slices and cubes, according to how creative you feel!
Use a big pan and add a little sunflower oil, then add the crushed garlic, and chilli and chipotle flakes, as well as the onion and celery. Warm everything together, stirring until these vegetables are transparent, then add the chunkiest slices of root veg first, with enough water to prevent sticking and scorching on the pan base. Continue adding vegetables until everything except the leeks and the shredded cabbage have been incorporated. When the thickest chunks of veg are cooked to your taste, add vegetable stock in sufficient quantity to achieve the consistency of soup you like. Now taste the brew to check whether you need more salt and pepper. At this point, add the brassica. It’s important not to add it until late in the process, or that boiled cabbage taste might be dominant in the final dish. I also added the finely sliced leeks at this point. More stock or water can be added if you want a thinner consistency.
The colour should be a vibrant purple or burgundy hue. Finally, take the pot to the table, with yogourt or sour cream as a side dish, and prepare to be delighted by the end result!