Borscht of Ukraine

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October may have begun, but the desert will not see glimpses of autumn for some weeks. Temperatures, at present, still linger in the 80s and 90s, and the sun continues to blister away our skin. It’s an odd feeling, truthfully: my internal clock is use to different seasonal changes – both in severity and timing – and I prefer the old ways. As a misplaced Midwesterner, I try my best to indulge that part of me. I can’t control the temperatures outside, and it’s too hot for those sweaters or scarves. My solution: seasonal candles and SOUP.

Since the first day of autumn, I’ve made Ginger Butternut Squash soup and homemade Tomato. Last’s week international dish included a savory stock, and the next country also includes a soup. Luckily for me, Ukraine introduced a soup as well, and it’s different than anything I’ve had. As you can see, it’s vivid and beautiful. As you may have guessed, it’s primarily made of beets.

The stock is unsurprisingly simple (unlike Vietnam’s Pho). Cook the beets until tender, and use the deep pink hued water as the base. Then cook the potatoes and shredded cabbage in the same water. The carrots and onions are sautéed separately before entering the pot (I added a little salt here), and once everything is in the large pot, add the seasoning: Dill and bay leaves.

This soup isn’t life-changing. Plain, hearty & healthy, but filled with potential, you can find ways to liven up the flavors. I’ve seen recipes add meat, even cream. If you like dill, I recommend trying this recipe as is, for it delightfully stands out. Whatever you choose to do, you can’t deny… Borscht is a knockout.

Ingredient List

  • beets, thoroughly washed
  • potatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • cooking oil
  • onion, finely chopped
  • carrots, grated
  • cabbage, thinly chopped
  • kidney beans with their juice
  • bay leaves
  • water
  • chicken broth
  • ketchup (I used tomato paste)
  • lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chopped dill

Quick Quotes

S: “The color of beet juice is more enjoyable than the taste! The Ukrainian folk songs were awesome.”

T: “I second the Ukrainian folk songs comment – it made the experience feel authentic. This was plain, but I also wasn’t expecting anything fancy, and still enjoyed it.”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of Ukraine is Kiev
  • The official language is Ukrainian
  • Ukraine and Russia are currently in dispute over the ownership of Crimea, which was invaded and annexed by Russian forces in 2014 (map: peninsula in the Black Sea with dotted line)
  • Over several centuries, Ukraine has been ruled by a number of powers, including Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire
  • It is the largest country entirely within Europe
  • Ukraine is known as a leader in grain exports due to its highly fertile farmlands
  • The dominant religion in Ukraine is Eastern Orthodoxy

 

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