Beetroot Soup - Borscht

There are several kinds of borscht; clear with little sauerkraut and mushroom dumplings, served on Christmas Eve in Poland; Ukrainian borscht with vegetables and beans; cold Lithuanian borscht blended with sour cream or yoghurt; white served with egg and white sausage or green which is based on sorrel and served with boiled egg and sour cream. I am sure there are more variations to be found in all the Eastern European countries and in Jewish culture. 
There is only one name for so many kinds of soup, but I assure you no matter which one you choose to make, you won't regret it. My personal favourite is the clear borscht served with Polish croquettes made with sauerkraut and wild mushrooms. My partner, on the other hand, prefers a hybrid between the clear, Ukrainian and white, which gives you a clear borscht with butter beans and boiled eggs. Nothing I have ever seen or heard before, but he says that this is what he always had for the Christmas Eve dinner, so I decided to make it for him this year and it actually wasn't that bad. I still prefer the original Polish version with dumplings or the croquettes, but it's the same base, so in the future we can have one beetroot/borscht stock and make it a hotpot style soup. 

  • 1 kg fresh beets
  • 4 medium onions
  • 1 medium celery root
  • 5 dried wild mushrooms
  • 4garlic cloves
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 2 sour apples
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 allspice
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 2­0 cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram (or more to taste)
  • salt, sugar and black pepper

Wash the beets and place in a pan of warm water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, around 30 minutes. Take them out, cool down, peel the skin and grate on a box grater with the coarse side.
Place the mushrooms and 3 cups of water in a saucepan over a medium heat and boil for 15 minutes. Take the mushrooms out and add chopped finely onion and celery root. Add pressed garlic and boil for about 10-15 minutes until tender. Take the veggies out and discard or use for something else.

Place the grated beets in a separate pan and cover with 1ltr of boiling water. Add peeled and chopped apples, spices and lemon juice. Add the mushroom/vegetable stock, season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste and cook for 1 hour.

Check the taste and season with more sugar, lemon or salt if needed. Strain the soup through a sieve and serve.



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