After much experimenting, we’re finally able to recreate the perfect beet borscht. This one is made the way Chris’s grandma makes it, which I believe is Polish beet borscht, heavy on the beets.
It all begins with a pot of broth. I’m using pork bones this time, but beef bones certainly work as well. I usually add a couple of bay leaves and some salt and pepper. You could add a mirepoix if you wanted to, but since it’s veggie heavy anyway, I never bother. This gets boiled for 4 or 5 hours.
Closer to go time, I get out my food processor and start shredding. You could use a variety of veggies of varying amounts. I prefer to use a couple of carrots, a couple of potatoes, an onion, and lots of beets. I generally just shred beets until my food processor bowl is full (5 or 6 large beets). After straining the both, I add the veggies, along with some chopped beet greens (these were saved from my summer beets and frozen – if you can’t find beet greens, a good substitute is swiss chard leaves; they’re from the same family). Add any meat that can be taken off the soup bones, and simmer together for at least 20 minutes.
Although lots of beet borschts get their sour from vinegar, this soup’s secret ingredient is sour salt (citric acid). I use about 2 teaspoons usually, but you can make it as sour as you like. After the sour salt, stir in some fresh dill.
The last step is to add the sour cream and whipping cream. In a big pot of borscht, I add about 3/4 cup of sour cream along with 1/2 cup of whipping cream. If your soup is really hot, temper the sour cream and cream with a bit of the broth first so it doesn’t separate when it joins the soup. The key to this step is getting the colour right: your borscht should be a deep vibrant magenta, so fiddle a little and taste a lot until you’ve got it just right.