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Cold Russian Borscht

One hot summer afternoon, a Russian friend invited me for something refreshing. To my surprise, it was a cold borscht that was prepared in 15 minutes by starting with a jar of commercial borscht.

cold borscht jar of borscht

One jar of borscht, refrigerated
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 cucumber
2 dill pickles
1 green onion
a sprig of dill, finely chopped
sour cream
2 tablespoons of vinegar
1/2 cup cold water

Slice the cucumber length-wise into quarters, and cut into small pieces. Slice the pickles, and cut the green onion into quarter-inch chunks. Mix the borscht, the water, and vinegar. Add the chopped ingredients and mix. Serve in a bowl, and top with slices of hard-boiled egg, a tablespoon of sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped dill.

Hot Russian Borscht

 hot borscht

Borscht is a traditional soup made with root vegetables that are available even in the middle of the winter. Although borscht is considered Russian, its origin is actually Ukrainian. Eating a bowl of hot borscht is an excellent way to warm up on a cold winter night. Some variations of borscht add green peppers, celery stalks or parsley. A bright red color in borscht is very desirable, and it can be obtained by using vinegar to acidify the beet soup. Since the red color fades after boiling for a long time, some recipes suggest boiling the beets separately with vinegar, and adding the red liquid at the end of cooking when the meat is tender. The following is a basic recipe:

1 pound beef shank
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
2 bouillon cubes
4 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium boiling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, or the juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For garnish:
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped dill

In a 4 quart pot with a lid, pour the vegetable oil, brown the meat, and then sauté the onions and garlic. Add the root vegetables, and other ingredients, and bring the water to boil. Cover, and simmer on low heat for about three hours. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with freshly chopped dill.

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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora