UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
Probably one of the most labor intensive soups I've made next to home-made pho. I had this notion in my mind of borscht as a cold beet soup and therefore the thought never occurred to me to make it or like it. But Aya basically held a gun to my head and made me make it for her, having probably acquired a taste for it from her trip to Vienna a few months back.

So I took it on as a challenge. We used beef ribs, which, like oxtail, are expensive since meat close to the bone is always better (and always makes the best soup). I reviewed quite a number of different recipes and kind of averaged them out, putting together the basic principles of soup-making that I was familiar with (boil and clean the meat and bones, use aromatics, strain and clean broth, etc). BTW, did you know that there is a Chinese version of borscht (called hong tang, red soup, luo suo tang, or russian soup -- pics here)?

Anyways, I think it turned out okay, considering I've never had real borscht before.


Yes, it's all about the sour cream



RECIPE:
Okay, here's how I made it, which isn't necessarily official or anything, just cobbled together from advice from a bunch of different sources I found on epicurious and chowhound.

Beef Broth
* 2 lbs of beef ribs
* 1.5 cups of beef stock
* chopped onions
* chopped carrots
* chopped parsnips
* chopped turnips
* a bay leaf or two
* a few cloves of garlic, chopped

Borscht
* 4 small beets
* a couple of potatoes
* more garlic
* more onions
* more carrots and root veggies
* vinegar and sugar to taste
* salt and pepper to taste

Garnish
* sour cream
* dill

What I did was make a beef broth. There are a couple of ways of going about doing this. The main thing to worry about is cleaning the beef. Since the bones hold lots of nasty crap, you have to clean them by boiling them at a high temperature. You can do this by boiling the ribs by themselves in a pot of hot water and skimming the scum. The other is to brown the ribs, remove them, brown the onions and veggies in the remaining oil, remove, clean the pot, and then add the meat back, along with the stock and some extra water. Boil that and skim it, which is a much harder proposition, since now you have a bunch of other crap floating around in the pot. In any case, the goal is to get the broth as rich and flavorful and as clean as possible. Simmer it for an hour or two, skimming periodically. Take the meat out, separate from the bone, and shred or chop it into chunks, and set aside. Strain the broth. If you don't have a chinoise at home, just take a mesh strainer and line it with a wet a paper towel and use that as a filter. It works fairly well. The broth should be pretty clear of particulate matter at this point.

Refrigerate this overnight. In the morning you should see some fat separated at the top. Throw this away. You can sautee some more carrots, turnips, celery or what have you and re-heat the broth. Grate the beets and chop the potatoes in a 1/2 inch dice. Throw that in and boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add sugar, salt, vinegar, pepper to taste. Add the meat back in too. Simmer this for 45 minutes or so. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, dill, and pepper.
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5 comments

  • yum! i am taking my first foray into pho today (alliteration AND rhyme FTW, lol) and am excited… maybe i will do borscht next time!

    kayce. on

  • ooohhhh, awesome Tmonkey! the color is gorgeous- what recipe did you end up using?

    kayoko on

  • BORSCHT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!! Turns your poop purple too!!!!!!!!!!

    ayagwa on

  • yeah, i agree w/ you on the broth part… i let mine simmer for a few hours, but overnight would have been even better… if you’re interested, here’s my post about pho:

    http://chefthecity.blogspot.com/2008/12/pho-win-p.html

    next up: borscht, LOL!

    kayce. on

  • Good luck! Both pho and borscht are two day soups in my book, the first day for making the stock, and the second day for putting it all together.

    tmonkey on

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