My family has rather a strong connection with Russia. In the late seventies my father travelled to the former USSR to study mining engineering. He spoke no Russian, knew no-one and had never travelled outside Sri Lanka. He spent the first year learning Russian and over the next five became well and truly immersed in Russian culture. He can still shot vodka, can still speak Russian, especially after said vodka’s and enjoys Russian food slathered in copious amounts of mustard. A lot of my father’s friends are friends he made while in Russia. When growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see a Russian potato salad at family dinner a long with yellow friend rice and chicken curry.
My Uncle Shelton likes to do a fully fledged Russian meal. He cooked it for me while I was pregnant and a few months ago he came over, groceries in hand and cooked me and Mr Firehouse the full deal. A beautiful red beetroot borscht, a rice pilaf and a potato salad. Served with rye bread and plenty of mustard it was a delectable treat! It was a chance for me to sit and watch in my own kitchen and take notes as he masterfully prepared the meal.
Since then, borscht appears on our weekly meal plan often, especially with two children who love beetroot. It’s a warming, comforting meal and freezes well when I make a big pot over the weekend. And, best of all, apart from a little peeling and chopping the prep is pretty simple.
When I have time, I make my own beef stock and then use the meat off the bones in the soup itself. But, it tastes just as good with good store bought stock and a piece of beef that benefits from slow cooking.
- 500g of stewing beef
- 1 litre beef stock
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 potatoes chopped
- 2 large beetroots chopped
- 1/4 cabbage chopped
- 1/4 cup dill
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to season
- rye bread and hot english mustard to serve
In a medium pot cover the beef with water and set over a low heat to boil. Boil until the meat is fall apart tender. At this point take off the heat, remove the meat and pour the stock into a jug. Chop and reserve the meat.
Place the jug of stock in the fridge and skim the layer of fat once it has solidified.
In a large pot add the stock, meat, chopped veg and seasoning. Add enough water to covet the vegetables. Bring to the boil and cook until the vegetables are tender but retain a bite.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with sour cream and freshly chopped dill.
Serve with a side of rye bread spread with hot English mustard.