Sunday soup: borsch (Борщ)

We loved borsch from the first spoonful we had in Russia. It was delicious, but our host was an excellent cook, so you’d expect that. We’ve had other borsches, made by other Russians, but like a first kiss, it was the first borsch that we fell for.

Unfortunately, we didn’t think to ask for a recipe, so several years later, we went through our cookbooks and invented something that we thought was similar.

I suspect we’ve fiddled with the tastes and ingredients over the years, and our version is now a rather Australian-ised veganised borsch: less salt, no meat stock and less cabbage. At the least, it’s become our memory of the borsch was had all those years ago.

Borsch - Russian beetroot soup with sour cream and dill

Borsch – Russian beetroot soup with sour cream and dill

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 largish beetroots (about 500 grams without the stems)
  • 250 grams of cabbage
  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • 2-4 tomatoes (depending on their size and flavour)
  • water
  • a little olive oil
  • a stick of celery
  • some dried mushroom (optional, we use it because we don’t use a beef stock)
  • salt
  • sour cream or cashew cream mix (see notes)

Directions

  1. Peel and finely slice the onion and beetroot. Chop the carrot and celery, and shred the cabbage.
  2. In a large pot, saute the onion in a little olive oil until it’s translucent.
  3. Add the salt, beetroot, carrot and celery and tomato and pour in enough water to cover it all. (Or stock – you can use stock instead of water.)
  4. Crumble in the dried mushroom (if you use it), then simmer the soup for about an hour, until the beetroot is nicely soft but not mushy.
  5. Add the cabbage, and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.
  6. Puree the soup using a blender/stick blender/food processor. It’s not traditional, but I’m not a fan of cooked cabbage pieces. We like our borsch to be a fine unchunky soup.
  7. Serve with dill and sour cream (traditional) or cashew cream combined with a little cider vinegar (the vegan option)

Notes

You can use a good quality beef or vegetable stock instead of water. You’ll be able to leave out the celery or dried mushroom if you do that.

Don’t like sour cream? You can use soured cashew cream (see below) or even yoghurt instead

Cashew cream is a good alternative to normal dairy cream. To make it, soak the cashews in some hot water for a few hours (pour the water on and go and do something else for a while), then pour the cashews into a blender. Whiz it, and add some cider vinegar to get the taste you want. You can add a little of the soaking water too, if you need to for the consistency you want.

Borsch - Russian beetroot soup

Borsch – Russian beetroot soup

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