No compilation of Russian recipes would be complete without a recipe for borsch – the staple of Russian cooking and the king of all soups. This soup is loaded with vegetables and extremely healthy and comforting. Borsch has been around so long that probably most Russian households have their own favorite recipe, modified according to personal taste and preferences. I grew up eating two types of borsch – the “red” kind, heavy on beets, usually prepared by my mother. And the “yellow” kind, heavier on cabbage, made by my grandmother. I have always been a reluctant beet-eater, and to this day I have to make an effort to add beets to my culinary repertoire. So… this recipe is for cabbage lovers. If you are a beet lover, I recommend you make appropriate adjustments (less cabbage, more grated beets).
Also, this soup would typically be prepared with a home-made bouillon, cooked in advance with chicken or beef and various spices. However, having a full-time job does not always lend itself to crafting fragrant bouillons that take a lot of time. This recipe comes with a bouillon that sort of “makes itself” as you go. 🙂
BORSCH with chicken
This makes about 4 servings.
1 small chopped white onion
2 small grated fresh beets
1 large grated whole carrot
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 large red potato, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces ( Normally, to make a chicken bouillon, you would use a whole chicken, or pieces with bones and skin. This results in a better flavor, BUT we cannot do that in this recipe, as we need a lean piece meat that will not need skimming as you cook the soup).
1 small green bell pepper, chopped.
2 cups fresh cabbage, sliced into thin strips.
1 cup sour-kraut (THIS IS MY “SECRET” INGREDIENT TO MAKE THE BORSCH EXTRA TART AND DELICIOUS)
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (Now, you will not find this in a traditional borsch recipe, however, due to the health properties or turmeric, its mild flavor and appetizing yellow color, I find that it is a good addition to this soup)
1 tablespoon chopped dill (or parsley, or cilantro, or any other kind of green herb that you like)
Salt and pepper to taste.
(IF you are making a bouillon in advance that you plan to strain, then I also highly recommend adding a spoon full of whole peppercorns to the broth while it cooks. They add a bit of a bite and a freshness of flavor.)
Sauté the chopped onion in some olive oil on medium heat until it starts to caramelize, add the grated beets and grated carrot, and continue to cook until the beets and carrot start to soften.
Add the can of tomatoes, plus 5 more can-fulls of water. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the potato!!), and bring to a boil. Then cover, and let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes or until the cabbage is soft and not crunchy. Then add the potato and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
Garnish with dill/cilantro/parsley, and serve hot with either a dollop of sour cream (traditional way), or a slice of fresh French bread with butter (my way).
P.S. If you are beet lover, also check out my Beet Salad recipe.