One of my favourite Ukrainian dishes of all time, even in the 33 degree heat wave that Kyiv was experiencing when I visited this summer, is borscht. This delicious, filling and even refreshing soup – served with a dollop of rich sour cream and a sprig of fragrant dill – is must for any visitor travelling to Ukraine.
There are thousands of different versions, with many countries claiming the soup as their own, and no two borschts are the same. “It should be thick enough to hold a spoon” said one of my Ukrainian friends. “Oh no”, a Russian friend recoiled in horror; “it should be elegant and refined!”
Here is one of my favourite recipes, which serves around 6-8 people:
125g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
800g beetroot (cooked, peeled and chopped)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 large carrots (cut into thin strips)
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
300g of white cabbage (chopped finely)
1 leek (chopped)
5 garlic gloves (chopped)
2 bay leaves
10-20 mixed peppercorns
1 bunch of fresh dill (chopped)
Salt and pepper to season
300g potatoes (cut into chunks)
2.5 litres of vegetable or beef stock
300ml (1/2 pint) soured cream
Heat the butter and oil in large saucepan. Add the beetroot, lemon juice, carrots and sugar.
Sweat, covered for 5 minutes, then add the onions, tomato puree and vinegar and cook for gently for 10 minutes.
Add the cabbage, leek, garlic and 150ml of the stock. Mix well and cook for 15 minutes.
Pour in the rest of the stock and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, dill, salt and pepper and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the potatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes. Cover the soup and leave to stand for 30 minutes – or continue to reduce the borscht down if you prefer it thicker!
Serve with a dollop of soured cream on top and enjoy!