A Polish beet soup named Barszcz (Borscht) has a delightful flavour, with a hint of sweetness and slight sourness. It is typically enjoyed with mashed potatoes and bacon-topped sautéed onions, making it a scrumptious yet simple dish to prepare.
This particular soup is known as barszcz czerwony (red borscht) due to the fact that barszcz biały (white borscht) is another kind. It is also known as barszcz zabielany, which implies that cream has been included in the recipe.
This borscht recipe should not be mistaken for the Ukrainian-style dish; the components are different, including chunks of vegetables, beans, beef and a topping of sour cream. This type of borscht is popular in Poland as well, though the recipe varies.
During the Christmas season, a popular Polish soup that is served is the Christmas Eve Borscht, which is a clear and meatless variety. Another soupy dish that is enjoyed in the springtime is the botwinka, which is made with beet greens. This is a classic borscht recipe.
In a white plate, a delicious dish of Barszcz soup is presented, topped with mashed potatoes and onion bacon.
To create the foundation of this soup, the following are required:
- Beets – the best flavor can be achieved by roasting raw beets, but pre-cooked varieties can be used in a pinch.
- Broth – for the tastiest soup, a good-quality broth should be utilized. Some people opt for a vegetarian broth, or a rosoł (Polish chicken soup), which is often the base of Polish soups. This can be made with either chicken or a combination of chicken and beef (50:50). If a quality beef broth isn’t available, simply use store-bought chicken broth.
- Acidic ingredients – a combination of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice is employed.
- Sweet ingredients – sugar is used to balance the acidity, though the sweetness of the beets should be taken into account when deciding how much sugar to add.
- Cream – typically, a special type of cream with 18% fat content is used in Poland. A combination of sour cream (12%) and heavy whipping cream (30%) can be used.
- To finish – plenty of dill is necessary, and fresh or frozen versions are preferable to dried ones. Marjoram is also commonly added.
To finish off the dish, the following ingredients are necessary:
- To make mashed potatoes, incorporate butter and milk to achieve the desired creaminess (not pictured).
- Combine bacon, onions, butter, and oil to cook the ingredients.
This dish can be served inside a soup bowl, earning it the moniker “potato island,” or alternatively, can be placed on a separate plate.
The recipe – individual steps
STEP 1: Place the beets in a foil wrap and cook in the oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1.5 hours at 400°F (200°C). The cooking time will depend on the size of the beets; small beets require 45 minutes, medium an hour, and large can take up to 1.5 hours. They are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork.
Do beets need to be cooked in the oven?
No, lots of Polish dishes utilize chicken or beef broth to cook beets. I tried two different batches of the same soup – one with boiled beets, and one with roasted beets. The latter was far tastier, as roasting brings out the sweetness and intensifies the flavor.
STEP 2: When the beets are in the oven, prepare the sides: boil the potatoes until they are tender, then mash them with 3 Tbsp butter and 1/4 cup milk while they are still warm. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
STEPS 3+4: Cut the bacon into cubes and dice the onion. Put oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large frying pan then add the onions and bacon. Cook it over medium-low heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the onions become soft and lightly caramelized and the bacon is nicely browned. Once finished, move the bacon and onions onto a plate that has been lined with paper towels.
If you’re aiming for an extra crunchy bacon, it’s best to fry it up separately from the onions.
STEP 5: Once the beets are cool, put on gloves and then peel them. Afterwards, use the large openings of a box grater to grate them.
STEP 6: Get a big pot and put the beets in it. Pour the broth over them, and turn up the heat until it boils. Add the vinegar, and reduce the heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
STEP 7: To temper the cream, combine both types of cream in a cup and slowly add a few tablespoons of hot soup to it, stirring after each inclusion. Alternatively, the mixture can be blended in a food processor for a smoother result. Finally, add the tempered cream to the soup.
STEP 8: Incorporate marjoram, lemon juice, chopped dill, and sugar. Sprinkle salt and pepper to the soup and modify the seasoning to your liking – if it’s too sweet, add in more vinegar or lemon juice; if it’s too sour, pour in more sugar. The soup should show a distinctive flavor and have a sweet and sour taste.
Put some mashed potatoes into a soup bowl, ladle in some soup, and then top the potatoes off with bacon and onions (the trio of mashed potatoes, onions, and bacon can also be served on its own plate).