You can’t go through a 3 week trip in Russia without partaking in some delicious, red, Russian borscht. Topped with a dollop of smetana and a smathering of dill, this traditional borscht soup recipe was brought to you by the 3 Russian ladies at the 8th Floor Hostel in Tomsk — all 3 of which slaved away for hours in the kitchen to give us foreigners a taste of the real deal.
I already knew I love a good borscht, but when Pollina — one of the amazing and helpful hostel workers at 8th Floor — asked if we might like to have a night of home cooking, I couldn’t say no. No way! Plus, I wanted to see how it was really done so I could recreate the magic at home. Australians already love beetroot, so it makes sense.
Before we set out for the day, Pollina dropped us a small note with a list of ingredients for the borscht soup recipe that we needed to pick up and have back at the hostel by 5pm. It included:
- 1/2 kilo beef on bone
- 1 small cabbage
- 1 kilo potatoes (we didn’t need that much)
- 2 carrots
- 1 large onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 large beet
- Tomato paste (they used ketchup instead)
- Bay leaves
Pat and I acquired most of these items at the open-air markets across the street from the hostel. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience except for when we had to buy the meat. Oh dear god, it was trying to watch the lady man-handle bloody meat and plop it on the counter repeatedly. But we lived.
One thing to note: The meat is actually less important. We wanted the bone to make a traditional and flavorful broth.
We brought the ingredients back, and the magic began!
Boil the Meat
First step was simple enough. Boil the beef in a small pot of water to create a delicious soup base. This went on for a couple hours.
Don’t forget to drop in a couple bay leaves and some peppercorns to add to the flavour.
Prepare the Veggies
Pat actually volunteered to help with the veggies, but after being laughed at and shown the “correct way” to peel a potato, I bet he wish he hadn’t!
Chop up some onions, dice some beetroot, and shred some carrot.
Fry the Veggies
Fry the onion in a pan of oil. Add in beetroot, garlic, and carrot (most recipes I found online only fried the onion).
Remove Meat from Soup
Place on a plate to cool before deboning and dicing to bite-sized bits. Remove bay leaves and peppercorns from stock.
Add Mixture to Soup
Add the fried mixture to the soup stock. Continue to heat through after adding in a few dashes of ketchup to taste (most recipes will call for tomatoes and vinegar, or tomato paste and vinegar).
Add Cabbage and Potatoes to Soup
Finish shredding a white cabbage and add in about 1-2 cups to the soup. Chop up about 2 medium potatoes and also add those. Bring to a boil and continue simmering for 30 minutes.
Serve it Up!
Before serving, drop the meat back in the soup. Ladle out bowls of the borscht, spoon a dollop of sour cream on top and don’t forget the fresh dill.
As you can imagine, it was delicious! Big thanks to the 8th Floor Hostel in Tomsk for making our stay so damn enjoyable, and thanks to Hostelworld for hooking us up. You all rock!