Borsch is Our Everything!
Borsch is not only delicious, aromatic, healthy, but indeed a cult dish. It has been well said that “Life without borsch is like fish soup without bream”. Its home country is Ukraine, but it is also hard to imagine traditional Russian, Byelorussian, Polish and Lithuanian cuisines without it. Moreover, in each national cuisine, it acquired its peculiar flavor. Its taste became new, acquired new tinges. There is no need to say that two housewives preparing to the same recipe will never cook two identical borsches – each woman will add something new to it.
There are plenty of ways of its preparation and combination of ingredients. However, what is for sure is that real borsch is impossible without beetroot (buryak in Ukrainian). Beetroot is first stewed, fried or boiled and only then added to broth. The vegetables most commonly added to borsch are white cabbage, potatoes, carrot, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes (tomato paste), garlic, greenery and spices.
The basis for borsch could be meat, chicken, or mushroom broth. The most delicious borsch is prepared using two or more types of meat. It is important to cook it for 1.5-2 hours on a slow fire, skimming off the foam all the time for borsch to be rich and transparent. Those people who like the taste of smoked meat use smoked ribs or sausage. Ifthedishispreparedwithoutmeat, you can add beans, slightly roasted flour, mushrooms, pork fat with garlic, and even fish.
A peculiar borsch is cooked using pickled vegetables (beetroot and carrot) or sauerkraut. Sourness is needed not only for the taste, but also for preservationof nice red color of beetroot. For this, housewives often use vinegar or lemon juice. It is interesting that in West Ukraine, borsch is cooked without cabbage and potatoes, only with beetroot and sauté of carrot and onion with an addition of cherry or apple juice.
Borsch is served with sour cream, green onion, donuts under garlic sauce or with brown bread, or dumplings (in Poltava region, for example).
Borsch is popularnationwide not only for its nice taste, but also for its nutritional value. Why is this cult dish so wholesome? Firstly, it is rich in vitamins:
- Vitamin C – antioxidant, stimulates immunity;
- Vitamin K – regulates blood coagulation;
- Vitamin A – stimulates visual organs;
- B vitamins (B1, B6, B9, B12) – “beauty vitamins”, positively influence metabolic processes, improve memory and nervous system.
Besides, vegetables in borsch are rich in cellulose that eliminatestoxins, radionuclides and other waste from the body. Due to its ingredients, even the most common borsch very influences the human organism in a most positive way by:
- actingas a choleretic;
- havinggood influence on the heart function;
- improvingintestinal peristalsis;
- havingan antisclerotic effect.
The uniqueness of borsch lies in that that, by changing ingredients, you can get thick, high-calorie or light dietary, however always tasty and healthy dish. People who take care of their figurecan prepare borsch with chicken broth or with no meat at all, adding some kidney beans, mushrooms, etc. Amountofsalt could be also reduced and replaced with herbs. It is not necessary to forgo sour cream, just a less heavy one could be used. Tocompare, the calorie content of different kinds of borsch per 100 g is provided below:
- With meat broth – 78 kcal;
- With chicken broth – 50 kcal;
- Lean borsch with light sour cream – 36 kcal;
- Borsch without meat and sour cream – 33 kcal.
This said, borsch can be included into the diet of a girl getting thin or a man doing manual work – all you need to do is just slightly change the recipe.
For centuries of its existence, borsch has become not only the staple of national cuisine, but also the centerpiece in the cultures of many nations, especially Ukrainian and Russian. There are lots of proverbs about it: “But for all tales, the borsch is getting cold”; “Have I either dug over your boundary path, or sneezed into your borsch?”; “Lunch is not lunch without borsch, and borsch is not borsch without beetroot”; “One hundred housewives means one hundred different varieties of borsch” etc.
Many interesting traditions are connected with the dish. For example, in the ZaporizhianSich, young Cossacks were checked“for strength” by highly peppered, so-called “wise” borsch. Red color of the soup was a symbol of good luck and wealth, that’s why it was cooked for weddings. According to other sayings, people believed that the soul of the deceased went off with the borsch steam, that’s why the dish was served at the funeral repast.
The legend dish is also mentioned in the literature. It is mentioned in The Aeneid by Kotlyarevskyi, The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov, A Cloud in Trousers by Mayakovski, etc. There is a notable quotation in The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov, where the Ukrainian borsch is presented as part of the lavish dinner at the house of Alexander Yakovlevich,assistant warden of the second home of Stargorod Social Security Administration, “the bashful chiseler”: “Pot luck that day happened to be a bottle of Zubrovka, home-pickled mushrooms, minced herring, Ukrainian borsch with first-grade meat, chicken with rice, and stewed apples.”
Talks about borsch can be endless, and isn’t it better to go to the kitchen and prepare your own culinary masterpiece?