Considering a lot of my family and friends have lived in Soviet Union for years, and made borscht from scratch, I’m well on my way with a great recipe to present to you. In this recipe, I use the traditional ingredients for Armenian borscht, but with a little twist. I bake the beets instead of boiling them. I like to bake the beets because it brings out their sweetness and gives the dish a nice depth of flavor.
Borscht is the perfect lunch for family Sunday gatherings. Don’t forget to buy a nice loaf of dark rye bread or baguette to dunk. Even better, if you can find one of those delicious Armenian breads called "Matnakash", just get that! And as we say in Armenian "Bari Akhorjock" (Bon appétit).
5-7 medium roasted red beets, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium raw red beets, peeled and grated
5 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onions
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 quarts beef broth (recipe follows)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed in big chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5 cup chopped fresh dill
1.5 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup lemon juice
1lb. sour cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash the beets, with their peels on, and individually wrap each one in aluminum foil. Place them on a sheet pan, and bake for 50 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven, and let them cool. Trim the ends, and rub the skin off with your hands (you may want to wear gloves to avoid red stains all over your fingers). Thinly slice them and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring the beef broth to simmer, and prepare the vegetables.
In a large non-stick skillet, on medium-high, heat the oil, and add the onions. Season it with salt and black pepper and sauté until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste, and sauté for 2-4 minutes to cook its raw taste. Next, add the shredded carrots and raw shredded beets. Let every thing sauté together for 5-7 minutes.
Add this sauteed mixture to the simmering broth, followed by the shredded cabbage and roasted sliced beets. If the broth is too full with veggies, add just about enough tap water(lukewarm) to stir it easily. Simmer over low-medium heat for 40-50 minutes. Add the potatoes in the end since they only need 10-20 minutes to cook, and continue simmering until they are soft. If you have saved or prepared any cooked beef, you can add those with potatoes as well. Turn off the heat. Pour and stir in the lemon juice, dill and parsley and let it sit for 5 minutes. Taste the soup, and add additional lemon juice, salt and pepper if needed.
Serve hot. Ladle borscht into deep bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of fresh dill and parsley.
- If you can't use beef broth, you may substitute it with water or vegetable stock; however I have never made borscht with chicken stock, so can't recommend.
- Most traditional borscht recipes requires boiling or sauteing the beets before they go into the broth. I don't like the idea of boiling anything unless I have to. I think roasting the beets gives the dish a pleasant depth of flavor. I still use some raw beets to give the borscht a deep red color.
- You can make borscht with yellow beets (sweeter than red beets) too, but then don't use any carrots.
- Borscht is one of those dishes which can be made in advance and it just gets tastier.
The following beef broth cooking technique is a very unusual yet old fashion one that makes a super clear broth guaranteed with no suspicious odor or residues. This method may seem long at first, but trust me, to achieve a clear and fragrant both, it is the ultimate way to deal with red meat’s scum, bits and odor.
If you would like to cook the beef broth any other way, then you are on your own for its clarity and odor. Also, if you are wondering if Russians make their beef broth for borscht this way, well I don't know, but my mom makes it this way, and I've never made it any differently.
2 lb. shank beef
2 lb. spare ribs
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
5-7 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery, cleaned and washed
1 bunch of parsley, cleansed and washed
2 tbsp salt
In a very large pot, place the entire cubed beef shanks and the ribs or whatever other cuts that you are using. Cover beef with tap water until just covered by one inch. Place the pot over stove top, on medium heat. Let it come to a full boil until it starts producing its brown scums and bits. At this point we don’t need to worry or care too much to skim. Allow 8-10 minutes for those bits and scum to come out, then strain the whole pot of beef in a metal sieve, and discard the nasty and cloudy batch of liquid.
After straining, I do two things. One, I’d like to scrub and clean the beef pot from any brown residues, then use it again. Two, I thoroughly rinse the shank and rib pieces, making sure there are no more brown bits stuck to each piece.
Now, place the beef pieces back in the pot, and pour a generous amount of water on top, as much as you would like to produce broth. For every one pound of beef (including bones), 3 cups of water is good enough.
Place the pot back on the stove top, and add in the aromatics. I’d like to use onion, garlic, celery, bay leaves, freshly ground black pepper, and some parsley.
Bring the broth to a high simmer, then lower the heat on medium-low and let it simmer for 2-3 hours until the beefs are soft and fall off the bones. Season the broth with salt midway through the cooking (when the beefs are semi soft).
Carefully, strain everything in a large metal sieve that is positioned over a large pot or bowl. Save the broth. At this point, you can separate the meats from their bones to put them back in the borscht, or you may just discard them.
- Ask your butcher to cube the shank beef and cut the spare ribs to half. That will save you a lot of preparation time, and you can just trim the fats at home or not.
- Shank beef's tissues have a lot of resistant and twist. Use a sharp knife when cutting and trimming it at home.