The very best Borscht recipe – Erika’s Oma’s Borscht!

A soft blanket of snow has transformed Montreal into a winter wonderland, if wonderland is a place where driving is a nightmare and my boots are ruined by slush as the unfamiliar ice mess causes me to twist my ankle in the year’s first spectacular fall. In any case it’s winter now so it’s definitely time for BORSCHT! That’s right people, we’re talking root vegetables, we’re talking warming stews, we’re talking about shitting pink for a week. It’s BORSCHT time!

Borscht is an easy to make, satisfying stew. It’s also a treat for your general well-being when you’ve been indulging too much over the holidays. I’m not a science-nutritionist, so I don’t know why, I just know it makes you feel better.

You’ll get my very basic borscht, and as an extra special treat, the lovely Erika from Strong Worthy Beautiful has agreed to share her Oma’s famous borscht recipe! I’ve had the pleasure and can attest that it’s a stunning borscht. I have been begging her for the recipe for months! So hold on to your ladles people and let’s make some BORSCHT!

basic borscht

A Very Basic Borscht

2 Tbsp cooking oil
Onions, 1 or 2
Carrots,  2
Celery,  2
Beets, 3-5 depending on size
A bullion cube and water – or soup stock – or your homemade soup stock, but who actually does that?
Optional additions to basic borscht
A cooking apple – (recommended not essential)
Potato, 1 or 2
Whatever else you have in your fridge that needs to be cooked leeks? Cauliflower?
Some nice fat sausages

A basic borscht is simple. Grab a large pot and start by chopping and cooking the onions in the oil. As they are sizzling, chop the celery and add to the onion, peel and chop the carrots and add to the onions. If you are using mushrooms or garlic add them now.

Let the base vegetables cook for a bit, say five minutes, as you peel and chop the beets (as well as the potato and apple if using.)  After the vegetables are soft, throw in the rest of the ingredients and add water and a bullion cube. Bring to a boil. Once it has boiled you can lower to a medium low simmer and just leave it alone for about half an hour (stirring occasionally.)  Once everything looks soft and soup like you can either eat it as is or blend it up with a hand-held blender. (Or whatever you have, but if you like soups, get a soup wand. They’re inexpensive, and cooling the soup to blend it in a blender a bit at a time is a sucker’s game.

To serve, add a dollop of sour cream on top, and may we suggest some fresh crusty bread alongside?

Now, for the more discerning borscht aficionado:

Erika’s Oma’s Borscht

Stew meat (optional but delicious –  skip for vegetarian)
Scrap Veggies – (Whatever you have laying about)
Bay leaves
Beets – 3 large or 8 small

Salt + pepper
Fresh chopped dill

Stew meat (any left over bones or meat will work, or veggie stock) with any other scrap veggies salt and peppercorns and bay leaves

While that’s boiling start roasting three big or 8 small beets in tinfoil with oil and salt & pepper.

Scoop out the meat if you are using it and set aside. In the broth put chopped carrots potatoes and cabbage for 20ish minutes – add half a cup of chopped dill around 10 minutes. Then re-add the beef.

After the beets are roasted, use the tin foil to remove the skins and cube the beets. Add 3/4 of them to the soup. Save the rest and some full for garnish. Boil for another 10 min.

Garnish with sour cream, beats and dill. The secret is that it is really the best the next day so I like to make it a day ahead.

-Erika  I think Erika is going to be prime minister one day. Erika looks a lot like her pretty oma. 

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