Old World Tuesday: Rasha’s Not-Quite Russian Borscht

April 27, 2010 § 3 Comments

A while back this past winter our dear friend Rasha (not to be confused with “Russia”) came over and made a very different kind of borscht for us. (My apologies to Rasha for not posting this sooner). Unlike my usual meaty version, this was a vegetarian borscht (which is not, in itself, an unusual thing), but the main difference was in the fact that Rasha (not to be confused with “Russia”) cubed all of her vegetables, rather than grating some of them (which is how I am used to having my borscht), giving it a very different (but a very interesting) texture. The other thing she did differently was sauteing everything but beets prior to simmering everything together, while I usually don’t saute the potatoes. Oh, and it also didn’t include cabbage, but I think that was because we totally forgot about it. Which happens to me sometimes. Sometimes I forget to buy cabbage for my borscht.

Note that Rasha (not to be confused with “Russia”) is not Russian but American, and got this recipe from her friend (also an American), who, in turn, picked it up in Holland, which qualifies it for the Old World section, I say. Right? Of course right.

She started with some celeriac. She peeled it by cutting off all the sides. In my day, I used to peel my celeriac with a potato peeler. Either of the approaches will work for you.

Then she peeled some parsnips.

Then everything got cubed kind of large, and some onions were coarsely chopped.

Then she sauteed the onions in some butter until translucent.

Then she sauteed everything else with the onions. Not until tender – just briefly.

Then in came some boiled beets… don’t these golden beets look just beautiful?

Those got cubed too.

Then she added some water to the vegetables and added the beets on top (enough water to cover and then some).

And then she simmered everything until tender, added some salt and pepper, and that’s that! The resulting borscht was sweet, delicious, and the vegetables were definitely on a firm side. I am pretty sure we ate it with sour cream. I can’t quite remember if she added lemon juice to it (borscht usually calls for some lemon juice to balance out the sweetness of the beets), but you can certainly try it! I know this would also be nice sprinkled with some parsley.

Rasha’s Not-Quite Russian Vegetarian Borscht

  • several potatoes
  • several beets
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 celeriac
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream, to serve
  • lemon juice to taste, optional
  • parsley, for garnish, optional

Boil the beets in water. Peel and cube them and set aside. Chop the onions. Peel and cube all the other vegetables. In a large dutch oven, saute onions in butter until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, and saute a little more (but not until tender). Pour enough water to cover and then some more. Add the beets, and simmer, uncovered, until all the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste (and lemon juice, if using). Sprinkle with parsley if you wish. Serve hot with sour cream.

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§ 3 Responses to Old World Tuesday: Rasha’s Not-Quite Russian Borscht

  • Tom H. says:

    This looks great–such a beautiful deep red-orange from the two colors of beets. One year at Deep Springs we had Russian beef borscht (my favorite version) for Christmas morning breakfast, garnished with sour cream and chopped parsley (red, white, green–Christmas colors). Just a couple of weeks ago, I made a vegetable-based improvised borscht, and stewed some fennel bulb with the other vegetables–it was great. I’ve never met a borscht I didn’t like (Ya lyublyu borshch)!

  • Sofya says:

    Breakfast, huh? Now that’s getting to be really Russian. Especially if you throw in vodka in the mix. Except of course that wouldn’t work at DS.

    There’s this dish back home where you boil calf’s feet for a long time, so you get that highly gelatinous broth, which I believe is pretty much served hot with lots of garlic for breakfast with vodka on special occasions. Not to kids of course, it’s a guy-get-together food. Or you can chill it and then you have aspic. One time we killed a cow here and I was this close to doing it, but didn’t. I regret my indecision to this day.

    I make borscht relatively regularly too – I mean what kind of Russian would I be if I didn’t, right? Borscht is an annual staple at Jacob’s birthday parties – he’s been requesting it since he was a little boy of 11 and went to Russia with his uncle (on a peace mission), and I just took this tradition over from his mom. He loves beets so much. He even makes hash browns with beets! He just planted some. Fennel + beets sounds wonderful!

  • A says:

    Cool! My great-aunt (and she really is great) sautes all her veggies for her borscht. I didn’t know this, and didn’t realize her borscht was vegetarian when I was eating it. I only realized it when I found no meat in my bowl. LOL! But it tasted just like it had a meat-broth base. If you’re curious, here it is: http://annasrecipebox.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/ellas-borsch/
    I have to write about my grandma’s (the sister of the above-mentioned great-aunt) version. It’s completely different, completely yummy, and also vegetarian.

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