Borscht is a filling and tasty vegetable soup, with a very bright red colouring, which is good on a cold day. This recipe can be made in a fully vegetarian version if one desires.
A couple of things to remember with vegetable dishes like this one, is that they need some Fat to capture and transport the flavours. The few ingredients must be fresh and of good quality, and it is important to be patient and properly fry the vegetables before adding the stock, because that is how a good part of the "meaty" flavours are created.
About 30 minutes.
About 1 hour total, with 15-20 minutes of "working".
Serves beween 4-6 people.
- 2-3 tablespoons of a good quality Olive Oil*
- 1 large onion (or two smaller ones)
- 1 large potato (or 2-4 smaller ones)
- 6 medium sized beetroots, about 800 gram
- 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on taste
- 1 handful of red lentils, little less than 1 dl
- 1.5 litres of good beef or chicken stock (see below)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato pure
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 litres of good quality vegetable stock
- 20 grammes of dried mushrooms (f.ex. ceps)
- Sour Cream
Peel the beetroot, potatoes and onions. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Find the lentils.
Add the olive oil to a thick-bottomed 3-4 litres saucepan and place it on a medium heat.
While the oil is heating up, Chop the onions quite finely and add them to the pot.
Fry the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, chop the potatoes and beetroots into rectangular pieces, about 1.5 cm.
Add the potatoes and the beetroot to the pot together with the garlic and keep frying them, stirring regularly. The vegetables are done when the beetroots are depositing a red syrup, that sticks to the bottom of the pot. This takes about 10 minutes.
Add the red lentils and stir them into the vegetables.
Add most of the stock, and: The tomato pure, the bay leaves, some freshly ground pepper, the soy sauce and mix it all together. There should be a couple of centimetres of "clear" liquid above the vegetables. Don't add all the stock at once, reserve 1-2 decilitres to be able to add some more stock if the dish becomes too thick while cooking. If making a fully vegetarian soup, then chop and add the dried mushrooms. There is no need to soak them first.
Put a lid on the pot and cook the soup on a low heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The dish is ready when the potato pieces are very soft and the red lentils have "dissolved" into the soup. The potatoes and red lentils will thicken the dish during cooking, so add some more stock if it becomes too thick.
Flavour the Borscht to taste with some salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve the beetroot soup together with some bread, butter and sour cream.
This version of Borscht is quite tolerant with cooking times and can also be slow-cooked for 1-2 hours in the oven at 120 degrees after the stock, et cetera, has been added and brought to a boil. If this is done, all of the stock should be added. Slow-cooking in the oven is convenient if one is going out for a walk and wants to have a hot meal ready immediately on returning home. When cooked this way, the dish will not get burned or cook over while no one is watching.
If one is doing the fully vegetarian dish and one hasn't got any dried mushrooms, it will still work out OK. I just personally find that the dried mushrooms adds a nice "meaty" flavour to the dish that one sometimes misses when vegetable stock is used. The important thing is having enough fat and to fry the vegetables thoroughly, without burning.
When one is cooking vegetables like green cabbage, one can reserve the cooking water, freeze it and later use is as a base for the vegetable stock for a richer flavour. One should then be careful with the salting of the cooking water.