This is the Family Recipe day where two beautiful threads come together; my Amish-Mennonite heritage, and our family’s Ukrainian adoption story.
I’ll begin with the history of how Borscht would make its way into a cookbook found in my Amish grandmother’s home. It all began in the mid 1700’s, when Catherine the Great invited Europeans to “come settle various pieces of land in Russia”. Many Amish and Mennonite families responded to her offer, and moved their families to Russia and Ukraine. They lived in communities there, continuing to live out their faith, and speak their dialect of German. Both World War I and World War II brought devastation to the Anabaptist people, and thousands were granted refugee status, many moving to Canada, and some into the United States.
As they came from the Soviet Union to North America from the early to mid 1900’s, they brought with them their Russian and Ukrainian recipes, which had become part of the “Russian Mennonite” culture.
These beloved recipes were selected to be part of the Mennonite Community Cookbook, which brings us to my family’s part of this Borscht story.
If you’ve followed my blog, you know about our Ukrainian adoption. We first thought we would be adopting “Luba”. Although she was ultimately not the daughter we would bring home, she made an eternal imprint on our family’s heart. Her favorite food was Borscht, and I made it often during the time she spent with us!
The recipe I’m sharing today is a lighter version of Borscht, made with chicken broth. While we were in Ukraine we also enjoyed learning how to make Borscht with a beef or pork base, when the director of our daughter’s school there, prepared a delicious meal for us!
So, here it is; our family’s Borscht recipe. Enjoy!
My girls and I enjoy shopping for the beautiful ingredients. As with all vegetables, it’s a wonderful idea to find them at your local farmer’s market!
Wash the beets thoroughly, and place them in a large pot with water. Cook until tender.
While beets are cooking, dice potatoes and onions, grate carrots and slice cabbage.
When beets are soft, remove them from the “beet broth”, (water), and add potatoes. Cook them over medium heat.
Grate beets, or slice into matchstick-sized pieces.
Sauté onions and carrots in skillet with olive oil. When soft, add cabbage. Cook until cabbage is hot.
Add all vegetables to pot with potatoes and beet-water. Add tomato purée and chicken broth. Then season. Cook for 20-30 additional minutes.
While borscht finishes cooking, you may prepare your parsley garnish. When we were in Ukraine our hostess added minced garlic and lemon to her parsley garnish. It was delicious, and we now do the same!
It’s time to enjoy your bowl of borscht! Top it with a dollop of sour cream, and sprinkle with dill and/or parsley.
- 2 beets
- 10 cups water
- 6 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 head of green cabbage
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 16 ounces tomato purée
- 4-6 cups chicken broth
- Dill (optional)
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Wash beets thoroughly, place in large pot with water. Cook for 1 a 1 1/2 hours, or until beets are tender.
- While beets are cooking, prepare other vegetables. Dice potatoes and onions, grate carrots, and slice cabbage into thin slivers.
- When beets are tender, remove from pan.
- Keep "beet broth"! Add potatoes to the beet-water, and cook over medium heat.
- Pour olive oil into large skillet. Add onions and carrots. Sauté until tender.
- Add cabbage to skillet with onions and carrots, and cook over medium heat until cabbage is hot.
- Grate or slice beets into matchstick size.
- Add cabbage, carrots, onions and beets to pot with potatoes.
- Add tomato purée and chicken broth, and bay leaves.
- Season with dill, salt and pepper.
- Cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes.
- Garnish with sour cream.