Monday 18 February 2013

My mum's Ukrainian borsht

Last Saturday my brother and I rented a van, loaded it up with unwanted furniture and drove down to Eastbourne, on the South Coast. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend, more Spring than Winter, full of champagne (it was dad's birthday) and delicious food, with intermittent spurts of physical labour, family jokes and those insignificant arguments that our family are so prone to having. My mum cooked one of my favourite Polish soups - the "Ukrainian Borsht". Polish dish naming conventions can be massively confusing, yet I do believe that this particular borsht recipe, rich with meat, potatoes and beans, did in fact originate in the Ukraine. Since the Ukraine is only a few hours' drive east of Warsaw, it is very popular around our parts, and deservedly so. In my (entirely biased) opinion, out of all the borshts out there (and there are many, many), this is the best
We left on Sunday afternoon, feeling uplifted and energized, and drove through the cheerful Sussex countryside discussing the importance of having the right kind of people in your life. The kind that make you feel inspired and optimistic, and those that make you feel calm and content too, and the ultimate importance of being able to say goodbye to those that do the opposite


1 large rump steak
2 carrot, grated
2 parsnips, grated
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
1 leek, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon pimento berries
4 beetroot
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins butter beans
3 potatoes
250ml double cream
Salt, pepper and sugar
Handful chopped parsley
Cup of beetroot juice (optional)

Make the meaty stock first - cook the steak with the pimento berries and bay leaf for about half an hour in a pan of cold water. Then, add the vegetables and potatoes. Cook the beets separately, then peel and cut into thin strips. Chuck them into the mix, along with the tin of tomatoes and butter beans. Remove the steak and chop into bitesize pieces before putting back into the soup. Season with salt, pepper and sugar now. If your soup is not red enough for your liking, you may add some beetroot juice. Allow to simmer for 10min, then add the double cream, parsley and season some more, to your own taste

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