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borscht

A #Recipe for Hot Borscht to Celebrate the Winter Olympics in Russia

A Russian Story and Recipe to Warm the Cockles of Your Heart

It’s SO thrilling for those of us who love winter sports: the Olympics are about to start!! And it’s even more exciting that they are being held in Sochi, Russia. How many of you had heard of Sochi before its Olympic fame?

For this month’s #letslunch we are celebrating these Olympics with a perfectly warming, suitably Russian and a-slight-twist-on-the-traditional soup: hot borscht.

This recipe came to the Monday Morning Cooking Club from the family of the late Manya Boorder. It appears, along with her traditional (cold) borscht recipe (photograph above) in the food, the stories, the sisterhood. Our book is full of wonderful recipes and heartwarming, beautiful stories just like this one.

Known fondly to all of her family and friends as Booby, Manya (or Mary) was born in Gluhov, a little shtetl in the Ukraine, in 1910. She was 8 years old when she fled the pogroms and spent a year on the road until she reached Harbin in China. They lived there until 1933 and then moved to Shanghai. She married young, and together with their son John, immigrated to Australia in the late 1940s.

Manya became the matriarch of a large Sydney family. Growing up, Manya cooked all the meals and was helped by all the women in the family. Her son John, who passed away in 2010, could not remember his mother, grandmother or even great grandmother ever needing to consult a cookbook; everything was handed down from one generation to the next. One person would cook the food and then someone else in the family had to do the tasting and suggesting, perhaps ‘a bissel (a little) more of this and a bissel more of that’. It was always done from memory and then by taste. Manya cooked with generosity and joy, and her family all smile when they think of her favourite expression: ‘Please have a little more’.

Booby’s hot borscht

Borscht is as much a part of the Russian culture as matzo ball soup is for the Jewish people. During the revolution and the pogroms, food was scarce. Hot borscht with potatoes and black bread (white bread was a luxury) was a great meal, particularly in winter. In warmer weather, cold borscht was the go. All Russian families knew how to make borscht and most tasted the same, although her family insist Booby’s was the best! In those days chicken soup was a luxury, so this was a great alternative. Unlike chicken soup, it does not claim to cure any ailments, but it sure doesn’t hurt. As the saying went: ‘Just have more borscht.’

1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
2 litres (8 cups) water
1.5 kg beef spare rib or top rib
(or other meat on the bone suitable for soups)
4 fresh beetroot (beets), peeled and roughly chopped
850 g tin whole beetroot (beets), grated
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
400 g tin diced tomatoes
410 g tin tomato purée
2 lemons, juiced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cabbage, shredded

Put the stock and water into a large stockpot. Add the meat and bring to the boil, skimming the surface to remove the scum. Add the fresh and tinned beetroot, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomato purée and boil for 1 hour, or until the meat is just about falling off the bone. Add the lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and sugar to balance the flavours. Add the cabbage and simmer for at least another 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is very soft. Remove the meat from the saucepan. When cool enough to
handle, pull the meat from the bones. Shred the meat with a fork and return it to the pan. Taste again and adjust the seasoning and lemon juice if necessary. Let the borscht cool overnight.

The next day, skim off any fat and reheat to serve.
Serves 12

Let’s Lunch (#LetsLunch) is a twitter-based virtual lunch club where anyone interested can join this monthly ‘lunch date’. A topic is posted at the beginning of the month, everyone now takes it in turns, and all posts are made on the same day by this random but lovely group of food bloggers, writers and people who just love cooking from all around the world. Anyone can join at any time – just join us on twitter by searching and adding the hashtag #LetsLunch. Check out the others’ posts right here over the next few days – they are always so wonderful!

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12 Responses to A #Recipe for Hot Borscht to Celebrate the Winter Olympics in Russia

  1. Mai Hoang February 7, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Looks good. I love the color! And the story is quite touching as well. And go Australia!!! :)

    • Lisa Goldberg February 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Aussie aussie aussie!! Thanks Mai, great #letslunch this month.

  2. Annabelle February 7, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    That is a gorgeous shot! I love borscht but have never tried to make it at home. This does seem like an appropriate occasion to try it out, though!

    • Lisa Goldberg February 10, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks Annabelle. This might be the time you are most inspired to make borscht, so go for it!

  3. Nancie McDermott February 8, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    Such a lovely portrait, of Mrs. Boorder, of her kitchen, her family, and the community cooking ‘club’ which MMCC carries forward. And the photograph? Spectacularly beautiful. Favorite line: “Unlike chicken soup, it does not claim to cure any ailments, but it sure doesn’t hurt.”

  4. Sandwich Surprise February 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Lisa! Hot Red Borscht is one of my all time favorite things ever. EVER. Now I can make it at home, yay!

    • Lisa Goldberg February 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Can’t wait to hear how you go with our recipe!

  5. Lucy February 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    A bissel of this borscht, please. Another winner, Lisa!

  6. Ruthy February 12, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    Hi – my mother made borscht with sour salt. How can I substitute or incorporate this in your recipe? BTW I heard about you and this site listening on sirius radio when you were promoting your book. I even called in and mentioned how heartwarming your recipes sounded because of childhood memories. It was fall and was in the midst of the Sukkot holiday, super busy preparing many of these same dishes!

    • Lisa Goldberg February 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Hi Ruthy – so nice to hear from you! Sour salt is actually citric acid which is used in cooking for either its chemical properties or its sour flavour. Lemon juice can sometimes be used in its place. So you could try and use it instead of the lemon juice in the recipe, or maybe halve the lemon juice and add citric acid. All the recipes I have been looking at online, suggest no specific amount, only citric acid ‘to taste’.
      How marvellous that you heard us and called in on Martha Stewart – we were so thrilled to receive so many calls, it made us feel very welcome.
      Happy borschting!

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