Today, I'm going to share with you a recipe for Belarusian borscht soup. In case you forgot, Belarus is located in eastern Europe. It's surrounded by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
I have a dear friend, Irina, who is from Belarus. She shared her recipe with me and it's so so good, that I thought I would share it with you. It's a bit time consuming but it makes a BIG pot of soup that tastes even better the second or third day. And, it so appropriate to eat on a cold, wintry day. (I kind of long for the wintry days of long ago - we are having some much needed rain drops today with 62 degree weather here....)
Here is what you will need:
Fresh vegetables including beets, onion, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and fresh dill (and is you wish, chicken breast)
18 cups water
3 carrots - grated
1 medium onion - chopped fine
4 potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 small head cabbage - shredded
1 chicken breast - cooked and cubed
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill - divided (2 T plus 2 T)
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
salt and pepper
soup seasoning (optional)
In large soup pot, place well scrubbed and washed beets. Do not peel them. Add 18 cups of water. Bring pot to a boil and and then lower heat and boil on medium heat for about 1 hour or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife.
Here's a photo of the beets cooking....
Remove beets from the pot and SAVE the cooking liquid. This will be the base of your soup.
Place the beets on a plate to cool then peel and grate into a bowl.
In a small skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, add shredded carrots and chopped onion. Saute for about 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Set aside.
Here's the carrots and onions in the saute pan....
Place the chicken breast in a saute pan and add some water. Gently simmer, turning over as needed, until chicken is cooked. Do not let it brown as you don't want anything to muddy your beautiful, shimmering, ruby red beet broth....
Cut the cooked chicken breast into small cubes.....
Now you will assemble the soup. Add the cubed potatoes to the beet broth along with the carrot and onion mixture. Bring to a boil and skim surface of pot if needed. After about 5 minutes, add in chicken cubes and 2 Tablespoons of the fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
At this stage, add in shredded cabbage. Cook for about another 10 minutes. Taste soup and adjust seasoning if needed. I sometimes add in a soup seasoning mixture (1 tsp). Now add 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and chopped beets and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of fresh dill. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until beets are soup is hot.
**Irina's secret to keeping the beets ruby red is to add the vinegar!
It is now ready to be served. You should have a beautiful, clear, pigeon blood* ruby red broth along with all the flavorful veggies. Ladle into a soup bowl and serve with a dollop of sour cream if you choose.
This soup is even better the second day as the flavors have blended. It's not that hard to make - as all the work is really in the preparation.
I hope you have enjoyed this little journey into delicious Belarusian cuisine. Until next time, I wish you all the best.
One last thing, Handmade Harbour is back after a long holiday break. Please stop by and say hello to some very talented crafters.
With my warmest wishes,
*Just a note about the use of the word "pigeon blood" ruby red.....this term was coined in regard to the beautiful color of rubies found in Burma.