The battle of broths and borsch.

December 1st, 2013Russian Revels

Blood-coloured, thick borsch is what russki soul is all about.

It is one of our most successful global brand acquisitions (well, with the other two), it’s what we suck in with our mother’s milk. Borsch is both the most comforting of foods and a show-off case of what Slavs love most in their food: sweet, sour, bold, generous, sincere.

Borsch. the original.

Borsch. the original.

” I want to see and chew on the things that go into my soup! Not have them in some pureed format!”

a good friend from St Petersburgh said not long ago. Is it that we don’t trust after 70 years of bones and toilet paper in our food? Or we want to appreciate all and every scrap of it?

And so we went on a quest in search of the best borsch this land of russki immigrants can fathom. What we call Покулинарим! or Cooking with a story in fact started back in spring, where we had over 20 classic Russian cakes competing.

The deal was – you bring us your dearest borsch – or any other kind of broth in fact. We’ll gather a crowd, add a few delicious accompaniments, like Borodinsky bread from Karaway bakery in Barking, and get a little tasting competition going.

Pavel, the newcomer with his 'off the internet' borsch. popular.

Pavel, the newcomer with his ‘off the internet’ borsch. popular.

The battle planned.

The battle planned.

Lining for that borsch.

Lining for that borsch.


Karaway bread.

Karaway bread.

We had two winners: who scored an identical number of points – how socialist of us really.

The winners!

The winners!

Babushka Shura’s Borsch from the Caviar girl, Inna Zubko with her friends, Madolin Grove and Alyona Tay.

Inna is a Russian girl who grew up in Australia and now leaves in London. She runs Beluga and Caviar blog about the happenings in London. The recipe is here.

‘It’s all about the stock’ – she said – ‘chicken wings and oxtail, boil for two hours’.

The result is the most savoury, hearty borsch of them all.

Borsch friendship by Oxana Dmitriyeva and Olga Sabyanina.

Serving up borsch.

Serving up borsch.

Named like this by Oxana Dmitriyeva and Olga Sabyanina as one is from Ukraine and another is from Russia. They are now flatmates and decided to cook a recipe that would combine their roots and history. How timely one might say…

‘The only quibble we had was about the crunchiness of cabbage’

(If only this was the only issue facing the two countries in questions…)

‘She likes it crunchy and I prefer to cook it off a bit’.

We loved the delicate flavour of the borsch as much as the story behind.

Besides, as we always say, food has never fed the belly alone…

Borsch Friendship.
Ingredients for 2 a litre saucepan:

200g of beef (ed: stewing steak)
1 med. size beetroot
4-5 med. size potatoes
1 carrot
1 small onion
1/4 of the head of white cabbage
2 handfull of kidney beans (not used in my original recipe for the competition)
(Note that the quantity of the vegetables depends from the desired thickness of the borsch and in Ukraine we like it very thick!)
juice of 1 slice of lemon juice
3 table spoons of olive oil
1 bay leaf
bunch of dill
salt and pepper
smetana or sour cream


Pour cold water into a saucepan, put the piece of beef in, bring to boil. Pour the water out.

Put the beef back into the large saucepan and fill with water for 3/4 of saucepan and cook for 15 min.

While the beef is cooking peel and grate beetroot and carrot, peel and cut potato into the bite-size pieces, dice the onion.

Add the potato to the saucepan and add salt. Take a small fry pan, add 3tb spoons of olive oil, fry for 2 min constantly mixing. Collect the onion and add to the large saucepan leaving the oil for carrot and beetroot.

Add carrot and beetroot and fry for 5 min constantly mixing. To preserve the original beetroot colour sometimes I don’t fry the beetroot but add straight to the large saucepan.

Add fried carrot and beetroot to the large saucepan and squeeze the lemon juice from the lemon piece. Note that lemon juice should be added immediately to preserve the beetroot colour as well.

Thinly shred the cabbage and add to the saucepan.

Add chopped dill, bay leaf and pepper and boil for another 5-7 min.

Serve hot with the 1-2 tea spoons of smetana or sour cream.