Thank You so much to Potatoes USA for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own.
As kids, my sister and I spent many weekends staying with my Polish/Ukrainian Grandparents. At one point in time, we lived right down the street from them, but to us visiting their house still somehow felt like venturing into another world.
My Grandma being big on tradition and my Grandpa being very much a creature of habit meant that on both counts, our visits rarely deviated from a routine. On Friday night, we ate dinner at the Polish Home. There we shared fried fish and large platters of potato and cheese pierogi. If I was lucky, I got to have a 7-Up too (It was the only time I was allowed to drink soda!).
Saturdays were spent lounging around, reading “The Funnies” (comics) in the paper, and watching my Grandma cook, before heading to church later in the evening. The dishes that she made were the typical Ukrainian fare, which she grew up with, including golumpki (stuffed cabbage) and borscht (beet soup). This is her recipe for borscht.
If you have ever searched for a borscht recipe before, then you might know that there are hundreds of variations. My Grandma thought it necessary to use a sparerib for the flavor that the fat imparts. If you prefer, you can omit the meat altogether and make a Vegetarian version of this soup as I often do. You must include the potatoes, however, as they not only thicken the broth, but soak up all of that gorgeous red beet color too!
UKRAINIAN BORSCHT WITH POTATOES
Notes: To make the borscht vegetarian, omit the sparerib from the recipe. Heat the olive oil as stated, and immediately add the tomato paste and spices to toast. Follow the recipe as is from there, using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. Feel free to add a can of drained white beans to the mix too, for extra protein!
The people in my family enjoy this soup to varying degrees of pink! Some like a dollop of sour cream added to the top of it, while others like to mix a large spoonful of it directly into the broth. I recommend starting small and adding more as you wish! Enjoy!
For the broth:
3 medium-size red beets, scrubbed clean
8 cups water
For the borscht:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small piece pork sparerib (about 3 ribs)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 white onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium-size red potatoes, scrubbed clean and chopped
¼ small green cabbage, shredded (about 1 cup shredded)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Additional chopped dill
Sour cream or plain yogurt
* This step can be done up to 3 days in advance. * To make the beet broth, place the beets in a Dutch oven or large pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes, until the beets are tender and can easily be pierced with a knife. Remove the beets from the broth to cool, reserving the broth. Once cool, peel the skins off of the beets; discard the skins and slice the beets into thin matchsticks. Strain the broth and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot, set over medium-high heat. Add the sparerib to the pot. Sear the meat for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside on a small plate.
Add the tomato paste, brown sugar and spices to the pot. Cook, stirring, for a minute or so, just until fragrant.
Add the reserved beet broth, stock, onion, carrots, potatoes, and sparerib – along with any juices that have accumulated – to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the cabbage, sliced beets, and dill to the pot. Simmer for an additional five minutes.
Stir in the vinegar.
Serve hot or cold with shredded pieces of the sparerib, if desired. Garnish with additional dill and a spoonful of sour cream.