Before we get to the recipe, there are some things about borscht that I must explain! The thing is, there are many varieties!
Most people think of borscht as some sort of red beet soup full of vegetables and sometimes meat. This is considered Ukrainian style borscht, and is the type that is featured in this recipe. If however, you grew up in a Polish household, you know that there are two other major categories:
- barszcz wigilijny (Christmas Eve barszcz)
- barszcz biały (white barszcz)
As you may have guessed by the translation, barszcz wigilijny is served on Christmas Eve. It is more of a broth with some shredded beets, or none at all. This meatless soup is served with small mushroom dumplings known as uszki.
Barszcz biały is a sour rye soup that includes kiełbasa and hard-boiled eggs. Noticeably missing: beets! It is a completely different soup altogether.
OK, now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on to the recipe for this Ukrainian style borscht. This is a meatless recipe, but you can use beef broth and include cuts of beef if you’d like (this would ordinarily be made with meat). This soup includes mushrooms, which is not particularly common in many borscht recipes, but it adds a nice flavor and balances the sweetness, as does the vinegar.
This makes a large pot of soup. I have no idea how many servings it makes…let’s just say, it feeds a lot.
- 3 red beets (peeled and grated)
- 1 small head, or 1/2 medium head of green cabbage (thinly sliced)
- 8 oz. crimini or white mushrooms (grated)
- 2 carrots (grated)
- 2 large yellow potatoes (cubed)
- 1/4 knob of celery root/celeriac
- 1 medium yellow onion (finely diced)
- 1 small yellow onion (cut in half)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 32 oz. vegetable stock
- 8-10 cups of water
- 4 tbsp. white vinegar
- 3 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. marjoram
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- * Optional; 3-5 slices of dried mushrooms, and 1/2 cup hot water
In a large pot, add vegetable stock, water, bay leaves, celery root, and halved onion and simmer on medium heat for at least 30 minutes.
Optional if you have dried mushrooms around: Rinse dried mushrooms in cold water. Add mushrooms to a mug or small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of very hot water. Cover the bowl or mug with a plate. Make sure mushrooms soak for at least 30 minutes. Keep the liquid.
Add 3 teaspoons of oil to a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add diced onions, cabbage, and grated mushroom with a few pinches of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes and then add carrots and beets and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
Remove halved onion and celery root from pot. Add the softened vegetables to the hot stock. Turn heat to medium-high. Add cubed potatoes, black pepper, paprika, marjoram, salt. Take the reconstituted dried mushrooms from liquid, chop them and add to pot. Add the liquid from mushrooms to pot as well. Cook for 30 minutes, then add vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes.
Add chopped parsley and dill, and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Like most soups, this will taste even better the next day!