Today’s soup is the one I have made more than any other. My ancestry is half Ukrainian, from my father’s side. Ukraine cuisine has so many memorable dishes: perogies, cabbage rolls and kielbasa are three of the most famous. Borscht is a soup that is commonly served in Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern and Central European countries. There are as many variations of borscht as there are people who make it; no bowl is the same as another.
I remember having borscht as a young child. Both my mom and grandmother would make it in the fall, when root vegetables were in harvest. There are so many memories I experience each time I have borscht now as an adult. Memories of family and comfort flood me with each spoonful.
I am so thrilled to share this family recipe with you. Borscht is hearty and chunky with so many ingredients. I use a ham bone to make the stock, and the beets give the broth a deep burgundy colour. In some ways, because of the large chunky vegetables, the soup reminds me of a stew. It is perfect to have on a cool fall day.
This recipe was one of the more difficult ones to write down. Since it is a family recipe, and I have made it many many times, I cook this dish by feel and by taste. I know what needs to go in and how it is supposed to look and taste so I have never really known exact quantities. Also, I make this in a BIG pot, so I needed to reduce the quantities of all the ingredients for a reasonable recipe size.
One thing to monitor, as you are making the stock, is that the water will reduce down. I start with my pot about 3/4 or more full with water and the ham bone. I like the stock to cook for a good 60-90 minutes which would reduce the stock by about 1/3. As you make the borscht, if you feel that more water is needed, feel free to add extra.
I cut the veggies on the larger size because I like borscht to be a chunky soup.
- 1 ham bone (1-2 pounds of beef ribs works well also)
- 15 cups water (more if needed)
- 2 cups diced ham (or beef if using beef ribs)
- 6 beets
- 3 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 cabbage
- 1 onion , minced
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- Place ham bone in a soup pot with water. Bring the stock to a boil and let it cook for 1 hour.
- While the stock is boiling, prepare the vegetables. Peel the beets and cut in long sticks, similar to french fries. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Peel the carrots and cut in 1/4 inch slices. Cut the cabbage in 1/4 inch strips.
- After the stock has boiled for an hour, strain it to remove the bone and any other residue.
- Bring the stock back to a boil and add the veggies, diced ham and bay leaf. Lower the heat so the soup is at a low boil and cook it for another hour.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh parsley.
- Alternatively, you can stir all the sour cream in the soup pot prior to serving.