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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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"But even better is a borshch, prepared with beets, Ukrainian style, you know the way, my friend, with ham and country sausages. It should be served with sour cream, of course, and a sprinkling of fresh parsley and dill."
--Anton Chekhov

Ukrainian Borshch

This fabulous, many layered, complex borshch is compliments of Sándor Fenyvesi, an air traffic controller in Budapest, Hungary, who was educated at a special school for navigating officers and air traffic controllers in Riga, Latvia, when he was 18 years old and learned this soup while there. Sándor has an outstanding bilingual website of soup recipes at Most derive from his wife Katya, a wonderful cook. Serve this authentic Ukrainian soup hot to 6-8 people as a substantial first course or as a main course. For the story of borshch, click HERE.

Garnish: sour cream

Heat the stock in a large soup pot, add cabbage and potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the beets, vinegar, bacon fat, sugar, and tomatoes in a saucepan and cook gently, covered, for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Then, in another small pan, heat the butter, mix in the onion, carrot, and parsley root (or parsnip), and braise.

When the cabbage and potatoes are finished simmering, add the beet mixture, the onion mixture, the peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves--and cook another 10 minutes.

Stir in the chopped garlic, the remaining bacon fat, and the chopped parsley. Then turn the heat down to a very low simmer, lightly cover the pot, and simmer very slowly for about 4½ hours. Turn off the heat, let cool, and allow to ripen for about 12-18 hours.

When ready to serve, reheat gently then ladle into bowls. Top each with a teaspoonful of sour cream and serve with a slice of dark rye bread.

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HERE IS ANOTHER DISTINCTIVELY TRADITIONAL UKRAINIAN BORSHCH, collected from Maria Cománescu in Baia Mare, Romania, March 17, 2005, by dear friend Nancy Manuszak, who says, "Mrs. Cománescu dictated the recipe and retrieved each ingredient to show me what it looks like and how she prepared it. Her son Dan Cománescu translated."

  • The basic soup recipe is whatever is in the larder. Raw pork chunks, cabbage, onion, carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper, water to cover. Note that she does not use beets in the soup itself.
  • Put all these things in a casserole-style pot (Mrs. Cománescu uses a crockery pot with a lid which sits down inside the rim of the pot).
  • Seal pot by putting thick plum puree along the rim of the pot, then putting the lid on it (there were some translation problem about the plum puree but later, in Gura Humorului, we ran across a prune filling for pastries, very thick, and I suspect this is what she uses. Lacking plum puree, make a yeast bread dough, completely cover soup with it, and put lid on pot). Put the pot in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F.
  • Now for the "finishing," which Mrs. Cománescu (who is Ukrainian and proudly so) calls borshch and declares it to be her national dish: In a skillet sauté pork back fat, small dice, about a large handful. Add lots of chopped garlic and cook a little. Grate 1 or 2 beets very finely, stir into skillet, and remove from heat. Add tomato juice or 3-4 diced fresh tomatoes. Remove lid, Spread sauteed pork bits over the borshch, stir all gently into the soup, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle with dill and a mystery herb. Translation problems again but I think it was a kind of thyme.
  • Serve with sour cream (everything in Romania is served with their superb sour cream)
Many thanks to Nancy for this superb contribution!