Borsch (beetroot soup) is not just a traditional Ukrainian daily meal, it’s a symbol of unity – the basis of the culinary tradition of Ukraine, which is stronger than any modern experiments and overseas borrowings. Borsch is a dish with a national character. It is primarily associated with Ukraine. This “association” smells delicious and promises warmth, comfort, fullness, and, thus, sense of peace. When Ukrainians choose to cook borsch as their everyday main dish – their express their patriotism and show their love for Ukraine.
This soup brings people together
In Ukraine, borsch has long been considered a symbol of a strong family: all the ingredients are cooked in a clay pot, transferring their flavors to each other, and as a result become one whole – a rich, hearty, and dense borsch. In days of old, borsch was eaten almost every day, served on holidays and at weddings. The peculiarity of this dish is that it becomes tastier the next day when flavors are well blended together.
The word borsch itself originated from the Old Slavonic word “b’rshch” (beet). This vegetable is an indispensable part of all borsch recipes. It gives borsch its very taste and color, while fragrant onion and garlic give emotional-to-tears piquancy, and burning pepper gives a zest reflecting Ukrainian sharp sense of humor and self-irony.
Back to old times – The very first borsch
In days of old, meat was included in borsch only on big holidays, because pigs were not slaughtered often. Borsch cooked with cabbage, beets, carrots, parsley. The potato was added from the second half of the 19th century. The borsch wasn’t boiled in a pan yet it was simmered in a ceramic pot in the Ukrainian stove. Both beet and beet kvass were added to borsch.
Ancient-old culinary tradition
A little later, Ukrainians started to add cut salo for a better taste, and Ukrainian Cossacks brought garlic and many different spices. Borsch was cooked with beans, browned flour, millet or buckwheat, and dumplings. On holidays or on Sundays borsch was cooked using a meat broth. On weekdays Ukrainians added salo fried with onions and garlic.
As most Ukrainians had a cow; they dressed the beet soup with sour cream on special days.