Pamper your family with Classic Red Borscht Soup: homey, healthy, family-friendly and super yummy!
Borscht is one the tastiest and healthiest family meals. This vibrantly red, sweetly sour soup is the essential part of Easter European cuisine and comes in many varieties. I was raised in a Russian family and borscht often was one of our must-have Sunday lunch meals. I really like the classic red borscht and I also made some changes in the authentic recipe to speed up the process of cooking (well, it is a necessity for people living in Arizona’s heat). Those changes help my borscht to be even healthier and less calorific!
WHAT GIVES THE BORSCHT ITS CLASSIC RED COLOR?
The secret is simple: beets, beets, and more beets! According to well-known research, beets are loaded with valuable nutrients and fiber and have incredible health benefits such as boosting the digestive system, lowering blood pressure, helping to repair tissues and much more.
INGREDIENTS FOR CLASSIC RED BORSCHT:
1.2 lb. beef (stew meat or sirloin, I’m using the boneless kind, but the bone-in one is also a good option!)
2 large beets, washed, peeled and grated
8-9 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bag of baby carrots (16 Oz)
1.5 lb. green cabbage, chopped
15 cups cold water (+ 1 cup for chopping carrots in blender)
3 tsp. sea salt (+ more to taste)
3 tsp. sugar
2-3 bay leaves
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. white vinegar
6 Tbsp. ketchup (I used the Heinz Tomato Ketchup)
Mayonnaise (my favorite is Best Foods Real Mayonnaise)
Garlic, freshly minced
Parsley flakes (or fresh chopped parsley)
Now, returning to our beats – they tend to lose their beautiful rich ruby color while cooking. To avoid this, we add a little bit of vinegar, it helps to preserve colors and also gives our borscht soup its wonderful sour mouth-watering taste. Some people replace white vinegar with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar but I found that it changes the original borscht’s taste and smell.
HOW TO MAKE BORSCHT:
Thoroughly wash meat in cold water, cut into 2″ pieces. Fill up the large soup pot with 15 cups of cold water, add the meat and 3 tsp. of salt (I always use sea salt, because it’s a healthier choice). Bring it to a boil. I usually remove the foam crude; it helps to clarify the broth (even though it does not really change the taste because I’m making a soup – not an Irish Ale LOL).
*Tips: You can also use pork instead of beef.
Lower the heat, add 2 or 3 bay leaves and cook at a low boil for 30 minutes – which gives us enough time for the next step (cutting and grating our vegetables)!
So, cut potatoes into bite-size pieces.
Chop the onion.
Grate the beets using the large grater holes (or let the food processor do this job for you).
Put your baby carrots, 1 cup of water, 6 Tbsp. of ketchup and 3 tsp. of sugar into a blender and grate them on the low “grate” mode.
Take out the meat pieces after 30 minutes of cooking and put sliced potatoes into a pot.
You’ll probably want to increase the heat a little bit more after that and do not cover the pot (overwise your soup can start splashing on the stove).
Chop the meat it into 0.5×0.5 inch pieces. Why don’t we slice the meat into smaller pieces right away? I believe the cutting of partially-boiled meat helps to make more sharply formed meat cubes (yes, you caught me – sometimes I’m a perfectionist 🙂 … maybe because I’m a designer?)
Place your chopped meat back into a pot.
Cook potatoes in the beef broth for about 10 minutes then add onion and beets. Add the vinegar immediately after you placed the beets into a pot.
Add your carrots-ketchup grated puree into a pot as well.
Then add the cabbage.
Cook about 10-15 more minutes or until potatoes with cabbage are fully cooked.
Finally, add 4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes.
* Tips: Don’t overcook your cabbage. It should not be all soggy, mushy and tasteless. You will find the right balance: when the cabbage is already soft enough but still pretty juicy. 🙂
Serve hot with mayo and sour cream (1 Tbsp. of each per bowl). Add some freshly minced garlic (1 clove per bowl) and parsley flakes (or fresh parsley).
*Tips: fresh or dry dill also makes a wonderful garnish.