This one is special. I grew up on borsch and to this day I get regular cravings for it. Whenever I try to search for it though, I can never find the authentic taste my father used to make back in Siberia. The recipe below is directly derived from my dad’s and mom’s cooking. The trick to it is to simmer it for a long time, on low heat. Also, you could make it with ready-made chicken/beef broth, but I prefer to cook mine fresh. Also, parsley, scallions, dill and cilantro are all optional, but, they add to the taste and I highly recommend to use them. Lemon is also optional, but it also adds to the taste and keeps the red color of the soup (if you don’t add it, the soup will turn brown the next day).
Edit: after showing this recipe to my family in Russia, it was duly noted that there is no celery in Siberia, so I am marking it as optional as well.
4 quarts of water (16 cups)
1 whole medium/small chicken (or any other meat of your choice, chicken is just my favorite)
3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3-4 medium potatoes, chopped (into squares)
2-3 medium beets, chopped (into long thin pieces)
2-3 sticks of celery, chopped (optional)
1/2 medium cabbage, diced
1 whole large onion
1 red bell pepper (green or yellow work just as well)
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
6-7 bay leaves
1/2 lemon (optional)
parsley, chopped (optional)
dill, chopped (optional)
cilantro, chopped (optional)
In a large heavy pan, boil chicken, bay leaves and whole onion until chicken is ready. Take out the onion and throw it out. Salt to taste.
Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, bell pepper and cabbage. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat.
Add potatoes and beets. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until potatoes are ready (you can check by sticking a knife or a fork into one of the potatoes. If it easily goes through – it’s ready).
While still on low heat, add garlic, black pepper and squeeze lemon into the soup. Simmer another 5-7 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Add parsley, scallions, dill and cilantro.
Serve with sour cream.