Borshch

You probably have heard of Borshch as one of the most famous Russian dishes. But do you realize what a nutritional treasure it is?

My new friend cooks this killer borshch! After enjoying it, it strikes me that this colorful dish is not only delicious and invigorating, but also the perfect nutritional powerhouse. No wonder the Russians can survive on it for days!

“In Russia we eat it as a main dish for lunch, it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter. For hot weather, there is cold borshch; the hot one presented here is perfect for the winter. There are many variations. Some have cabbage, some don’t. Some have red beans or mushrooms. But the one constant is beets. The meat with bone, usually beef, is the perfect base to make a broth. But pork or chicken are used too. It all depends on how you like it.”

colorful

Nutrition and Color
Our bodies rely on many substances present in our food to grow, repair and regulate themselves: these are the micronutrients, electrolytes and minerals. We group them under the term “nutrients” for short. 
Nutrients, with a few important exceptions, are colorful. Eating by color is a guarantee that we’ll get many forms of nutrients.

Borshch is replete with nutrition. We could attempt to make a list of the nutrients it contains; but you just need to look at the color of the ingredients to understand it’s loaded. The addition of meat and sour cream  makes it a complete meal.

Borshch

(Serves 8 to 10 as a main course)

  • 1 lb beef stew meat with bone (not too lean)
  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • 8 small potatoes (or less), peeled and cubed
  • 1 oz butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 red beets, grated
  • ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Bay leaves

 


1. Cut the meat in bite-sized cubes. Place it (together with the bone) in a pot, add a fair amount of cold water. Use a large pot, this will be your final vessel… The exact quantity of water is not important, but leave some room because you are going to add a lot more ingredients. Bring to a boil slowly.

2. After the pot has been boiling for about 15 minutes, add the shredded cabbage.

3. Add the potatoes to the stock pot only after the cabbage is fully cooked, soft and translucent. That’s important because, somehow, the cabbage stops cooking when you add the potatoes. As soon as the potatoes are boiling, you can put the rest (see step 7).

4. In parallel: in a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the crushed garlic. Wait 1 or 2 minutes until the fragrance develops.

5. Add the diced onion to the pan, fry until golden. Add the shredded carrot.

6. Add the grated beets and the lemon juice to the pan. The juice helps bring out the bright red color. Add the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, adding a little broth from the pot if it becomes too dry.

7. The finish: Transfer the contents of the pan to the pot. Mix and let cook for another 7 to 10 minutes. In the end, add boiling water as needed to obtain the preferred consistency: the soup should be fairly liquid, not thick and heavy. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, drop in the Bay leaves, sprinkle the surface with dried herbs (parsley, etc.).

Cover the pot and let it sit for at least half an hour before eating. Serve with sour cream to taste, and garnish with parsley or dill.


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Author: Lien Nguyen

Liên is the author of several cookbooks that blend food with history, culture and health.

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