Ukrainian Borscht

2h 15min
Stanislava Dimitrova
How it's made: 

This deep red meaty soup has many varieties depending on the region it's coming from. But it seems that it has become somewhat of a Ukrainian national symbol. The red beetroot is the major ingredient of the soup and the bearer of that rich, earthy, delicious flavor. Here is how I cook the Ukrainian Borscht.

Chop the beef into small chunks and boil it in a large pot of water with 1 chopped onion, salt, bay leaves and peppercorns. Let it simmer for half an hour to one hour until the meat is cooked. It all depends on the type of meat you are using.

Meanwhile, peal and chop one large beetroot. Peal and chop the potatoes. Clean and chop 2 carrots. Wash and chop the red pepper and celery sticks. When the meat is tender, add the chopped vegetables. Beet and carrots first, then the rest of the vegetables. Cook for 15- 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but not mushy.

As soon as this is done, peal and grate the second beet. Peel and grate the carrot and chop the second onion. Sauté them in a large chunk of butter and as soon as they soften, add tomato paste. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and add mixture to broth. Let it simmer for just a few minutes. Serve hot, with sour cream, fresh cilantro and rye bread.

In some areas, cabbage and beans are added to the soup. There is also vegetarian version of it, but as I said, there are as many varieties as one can think of. That's what I love about cooking - it's all about improvising.

Shopping list: 
1 pound of beef
2 medium beetroots
2 medium onions
3 carrots
4-5 medium potatos
1 cup tomato paste
1-2 celery sticks
1 red cayenne pepper
6-8 pepprcorns
3-4 bay leaves
1 handful of fresh cilantro
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