Borscht or barzcz is type of soup using beetroot as its ingredient, there are several variations of this dish and the most popular ones are the Eastern European (Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine) variant where it uses beetroot as its main ingredient and the Asian variant where it is made out of tomatoes and beetroot. While most of the borscht variants are served hot in Lithuania it is served cold and sour cream is added giving it a unique vivid pink colour.
This dish existed since the medieval times and old recipes suggest that beet was never its main component but barszcz (European cow parsnip). This dish was a staple food of poor people in Russia during those times as barszcz was so cheap during those times. It started to become popular and was introduced to the rest of Europe, the ingredients then slowly changed and beet was introduced as a replacement for the cow parsnip, meat such as beef and chicken was also added and the rest was history.
For today we will be making the Asian version served with big chunks of ox tail, this is really good on its own as well as with rice.
2 kg oxtails
3 pcs beet root, cubed
2 starchy potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, cubed
3 stalks celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, sliced
1/4 red cabbage, chopped
4 pcs tomatoes, cut into wedges
4-5 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
1. In a pot add water and the oxtail, bring it to a boil then turn heat off. Rinse oxtail with running water then set aside. (This process eliminates the scum)
2. In a heavy skillet add oil then brown oxtail on all sides. Remove oxtail then set aside.
3. In a large stock pot add oil then sauce onions and celery until soft.
4. Add the oxtail, beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and dried basil bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Check regularly and add water if needed.
5. Add the beet root, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Bring back to a boil then simmer in low heat for 30 – 45 more minutes or until meat is tender.
6. Add paprika and sugar, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn heat off then serve.