Borscht is Ukrainian superfood, a traditional Ukrainian dish that has become very popular all over the world. Its distinctive red color comes from red beetroots, one of the main ingredients. Borsch has glorified Ukrainian cuisine. Very often, a foreigner who has tried homemade Ukrainian borscht takes home its recipe as a souvenir.

Like a mirror, Ukrainian borsch reflects the character of the country’s kitchen: it is hearty, fragrant, colorful, thick, and incredibly tasty.

Borscht is a very mysterious and unusual dish, the methods of preparation of which are still being debated. Each family has its own secrets of delicious borscht, which are passed down from generation to generation. In Ukraine, you cannot find two identical borschts and even one family that does not make borscht. But one thing remains common – the love for this amazingly delicious dish, which is impossible to resist.

 

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

 

Ukrainian borscht should be thick enough for a spoon to stand upright in it

There is an uncountable amount of borscht recipes, but the basic borscht ingredients remain unchanged: chicken, meat, or bone stock and a variety of vegetables.

The vegetables most commonly added to borscht are beetroots, white cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and red bell peppers. Root vegetables are sautéed (traditionally in lard, sunflower oil, or butter) and then mixed with tomatoes or tomato paste. Potatoes and cabbage are boiled in the stock for about 15 minutes before the precooked vegetables are added. Ukrainian borscht is typically flavored with a wide selection of herbs, spices and condiments. Salt, black pepper, garlic, bay leaves and dill are among the most commonly used. All these veggies make the dominant tastes in borscht sweet and sour.

In Ukraine they have a saying that a good borscht should be thick enough in amount of ingredients for a spoon to stand upright in it.

What makes Ukrainian borscht superfood?

Ukrainian borscht is a nutritious treasure chest. It doesn’t just taste great – it provides a ton of health benefits in every mouthful. It’s impossible to list them all just to mention a few:

  • Meat stock is an excellent source of proteins – building blocks for every cell in your body. The stock is incredibly rich in collagen that is necessary for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails, as well as overall health.
  • Beets: The anthocyanins and betalains in beets are not only responsible for the borscht’s scarlet color. They have also been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support for your body. High levels of the mineral boron can dramatically boost the production of sexual hormones. Also, beets naturally rich in nitrates that boost erection in men by increasing increase blood flow to the erectile tissue.
  • Tomatoes are full of many goodies: proteins, dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and B6, iron, and potassium. But their hidden gem is lycopene – super powerful aphrodisiac. Cooking tomatoes and serving in oil-rich dishes greatly increases assimilation of lycopene from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.

Properly prepared borscht contains such a huge amount of all imaginable nutrients and biologically active substances that it can be considered a therapeutic product.

 

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian borsch’s recipe ignores political boundaries

In “The story of borshch” that was published in The Guardian in 2008, James Meek says:

… The Soviet Union is dead, yet Borshchland lives on. Recipes, like birds, ignore political boundaries. … The faint outline of the Tsarist-Soviet imperium still glimmers in the collective steam off bowls of beetroot and cabbage in meat stock, and the soft sound of dollops of sour cream slipping into soup, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Japan and, in emigration, from Brooklyn to Berlin.

UNESCO made borscht Ukraine’s cultural heritage

In 2022, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has placed Ukrainian borscht on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding due to the risk that Russia’s invasion posed to the soup’s status as an element of Ukraine’s cultural heritage. It means that Ukraine could now apply for special funds to finance projects promoting and protecting the dish.

 

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

 

Ukrainian borsch starts with stock

Great Ukrainian borscht starts with great stock. To be absolutely clear what we are talking about, let’s see what is the difference between bouillon, broth and stock (chicken, pork, beef, or any other meat or poultry)?

  • Bouillon (bouillon cubes) is dehydrated broth. It is made from dehydrated stock, vegetables, fat, salt, and a variety of seasonings.
  • Stock is made from bones.
  • Broth is made mostly from meat or vegetables.

Boiling bones makes a thicker liquid – stock. Cooking meat without bones makes a thinner liquid – broth. However, stock and broth are usually used as synonyms. Both, homemade stocks and broths are rich in essential proteins and healthy fats, but stocks are considerably richer in collagen than broths.

Ukrainian borsch must be made with bones. If you have chicken breasts or beef stew, you have to add some bones. The bones have to be boiled for 5-6 hours, and meat – about 2.5 hours, just do not forget to remove the foam.

 

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

 

Tricks with vegetables when cooking borscht

When the stock is ready, the first thing you have to add is beets that previously sautéed with carrots and tomatoes (or tomato paste). All these vegetables could be added raw instead of sautéed.

If the chopped onion is put into the broth immediately after the beets, by the end of cooking, it will be so soft that almost invisible in the soup; but it’ll give a piquant taste and aroma to the soup.

Cabbage is added last when the soup is almost ready.

Cook borscht at home – it’s not a rocket science. Eat it a few times a week. You’ll be completely rejuvenated after eating a bowl of borscht. Ukrainian borscht is a soup you can’t go without.

 

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

Ukrainian superfood – borscht

 

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