Borscht (or Borshch) is a hearty beetroot vegetable soup considered to originate from Ukraine or Eastern Russia. Can’t you believe it? It’s very popular in Hong Kong, yet with a tweak of adding more flavour. You’ll easily find Borscht in the set lunch/dinner menu of cafés run by Hong Kong people. They often use beef soup and add some tenderized beef chunks going with all kind of vegetables. You might think it’s not that kind of original Borscht, but many Hong Kong people like having some meat or bones to cook soup. My family also likes to have a piece of toasted garlic bread to go with this soup. We just feel that we don’t need anything else, totally satisfied.
- 4 strips beef brisket (or beef bones for soup)
- 2 to 3 stalks celery
- 2 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 cabbage
- 2 garlic, crushed
- 10 to 15 white peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 lemon, grated juice, to taste
- salt, sugar, white pepper to taste
- 2 cups (500ml) beef or vegetable stock
- 2.5 L boiling water
- Blanch beef brisket (beef bones) for 3 minutes to remove blood. Trim any fat away from the meat.
- Add beef brisket (beef bones) into a large pot of boiling water, together with beef stock. Cook for 90 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
- Rinse and cut all vegetables into bite-size pieces.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic until aromatic. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add celery and cook for a while. Then add other vegetables and sauté until softens.
- Toss all vegetables into the stock. Add tomato paste, white peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
- When all the ingredients become tender and you’re satisfied. Season well with salt, sugar, white pepper and lemon juice to taste, along the way you have to taste it by yourself. When satisfied, remove from heat. Serve hot in a bowl. Garnish with parsley if desired. (This time I used Chinese celery as picture shown, adding a touch of oriental flavour. Hehe…) Serve with garlic bread.
It’s pretty easy to prepare garlic bread:
- 2-3 garlic buds
- 2 Tbsp softened butter
- Mixed herbs, to taste
- 2 white bread slices (or French bread)
- Use a grater to make minced garlic. Mix well with softened butter and mixed herbs.
- Spread the butter mixture evenly over both sides of bread slice. Broil each side of bread slice in a preheated oven for 1 to 2 minutes at 180C (356F), or until browned. Keep an eye on them. Don’t leave them unattended. They’ll be burned otherwise. The bread will brown very quickly.