Traditional Christmas Eve Barszcz (Borscht)
Polish cuisine is famous for its soups, which is why they have to be on the Christmas table. The most popular is borscht – sour soup made of beetroot. It is served with small dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)
- 40 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic buds
- 3 bay leaves, 4 allspice (pimento) berries and 10 peppercorns
- 2 kg beetroot
- 1/2 celeriac
- 1 cooking apple (e.g. russet)
- 3 tablespoons 10% distilled vinegar
- sea salt (app. 1/2 tablespoon) and freshly ground black pepper (about 1 teaspoon)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- optional: 3 cloves, piece of cinnamon bark, piece of star anise
- It’s worth adding 250 - 500 ml liquid beetroot sour
- In saucepan combine ½ litre water and dried porcini mushrooms. Over flame of cooker singe 1 unpeeled onion and 1 bud garlic. Cut onion and garlic in half and add to mushrooms. Bring to the boil over medium heat then reduce it to minimum, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes (the liquid should cook slowly, not boil). Add bay leaves, allspice and peppercorns to simmering liquid.
- Scrub, peel and grate beetroot and celeriac on coarse side of grater or chop in food-processor. Grate unpeeled apple.
- Transfer grated beetroot, celeriac and apple to large cooking pot (there’ll be quite a lot of veggies!), add 2.5 litres of water and the mushroom stock. Cover and bring to the boil on minimum heat (it should take about 20 minutes to boil). Add the cloves, cinnamon and anise if using them.
- After liquid comes to the boil, it should be left on minimum heat for another 10 minutes or so. Finally, add the vinegar, stir and remove from heat.
- To the barszcz it’s worth adding 250 ml liquid beetroot sour.
- Set the barszcz aside for about an hour.
- Salt barszcz (to taste) and season with freshly ground pepper, sugar and a fresh bud of garlic, finely chopped. Again, set aside for at least an hour or, better yet, until it cools to room temperature. (It can also be kept in a cool place.)
- Strain barszcz and refrigerate. Reheat it the next day or when ready to serve, taste it and season with salt and pepper if required.
Christmas Eve barszcz is not made with meat stock, so it may be somewhat difficult to season. It may seem on the bland side, especially if you use stock cubes and Vegeta-type seasoning on a daily basis. If need be, bottled beetroot concentrate may be used to improve the flavour (but it is rather intensive so several tablespoons should be enough).
You will find an original recipe in Polish HERE.