Borscht is one of those dishes that I honestly thought I wouldn’t like. When I was first introduced to the dish as a kid, the idea of a soup made out of beets just didn’t appeal. At all. Mostly likely because my introduction was likely those canned beets that you find on salad bars. And then I tasted borscht and loved it! In this version the beets are roasted in advance, which caramelizes them and bring out the sweetness. The addition of beef or pork adds another level of flavor. And then the addition of sour cream or Greek yogurt adds a creamy element that takes the soup over the top.
The recipe calls for Ajvar, a thick roasted red pepper and eggplant sauce. It’s very common ingredient in the Slavic countries where the recipe originated. Ajvar can be found in the international section of some grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, just substitute either red pepper or tomato paste.
If you are a beet lover and want to increase the intensity of the beet flavor in your borscht, add some raw fresh grated beets at the same time the red cabbage is added during the cooking process. And if you want to make a vegetarian version, just omit the meat and use vegetable stock or vegetable bouillon cubes instead.
If you are a fan of international foods, head over to our food finds/recipes section and to view our full collection of recipes inspired by our ongoing travels around the world.
- 1 Pound Lean Chuck Beef or Pork, but into 1/2" cubes
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 3 Cloves Garlic - minced
- 1 Large Onion, diced
- 2 Bouillon Cubes (beef, chicken or vegetable)
- 2 Large beets
- 3 Carrots
- 2 Stalks Celery, diced
- 2 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 Medium Head of Red Cabbage, cored and shredded
- 2 Tablespoons Ajar Sauce (substitute with Tomato Paste or Red Pepper Paste if unavailable)
- 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 Quarts Water
- Fresh Dill and Plain Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream as a garnish
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the beef (or pork) cubes and brown on all sides.
- Drain the fat and add the browned meat to a stock pot.
- Add the onions to the frying pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to saute until the onions are translucent.
- Add the onions and garlic to the stock pot along with the water and bouillon cubes. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer until the meat is fork tender (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours)
- Peel the carrots and place them in a baking dish.
- Cut the beets into quarters.
- Add them to the baking dish, coat with olive oil and then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a 350 degree oven until soft (35 minutes to 45 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- When they are cool, remove the beet skins. Grate or finely dice the roasted vegetables and set aside.
- When the meat is tender, add the cabbage and celery and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the potatoes, red wine vinegar, ajvar (or tomato or red pepper paste) and the roasted vegetables and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek Yogurt and garnish with fresh dill.
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