White Borscht

White Borscht

Traditionally made with items blessed at an Easter Sunday ceremony, this rich and creamy Polish soup features a mild sour tang from sour cream and horseradish.

Instead of the more commonly known and expected beets, borscht can be made with any root vegetable that is simmered until tender and then puréed until smooth. This classic Polish version (biały barszcz, literally “white borscht”) is made from potatoes, onions and leeks with an addition of horseradish for spice. Smoked kielbasa is used to flavor a base, and then added along with boiled eggs as protein for this special holiday meal. Each ingredient carries with it a symbolic Christian element in keeping with the religious observance.

Borscht generally contains a characteristic slight sour element, here provided by the addition of sour cream but often from a local fermented kwas (similar to a rye sourdough starter), buttermilk or vinegar and sugar. The balance of sweet and sour in this dish should be subtle and not sharp.

Fresh horseradish is preferred but prepared versions are easier to find and work just as well. The level of heat can be adjusted for personal taste but should not dominate the overall flavor.

Finish this soup with plenty of fresh dill and just a splash of malt vinegar.

White Borscht

1 lb kielbasa
2 eggs (hard-boiled)
1 russet potato
½ yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 leek
1 T horseradish
2 T butter
½ c sour cream
2 T flour
1 t marjoram
1 T dill
bay leaf
black pepper

1 Bring 6 c water to a boil in a pot and add the kielbasa. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 min. Remove the kielbasa to cool, and reserve the liquid.

2 Chop the onion, leek and garlic and sauté in the butter until soft, about 5 min. Do not brown.

3 Peel and dice the potato and add to the reserved liquid along with the sautéd vegetables and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are cooked, about 30 min.

4 Remove the bay leaf and purée the liquid. Return to the pot, and add parsley and spices.

5 Separately, whisk together the sour cream, flour, horseradish and about ½ c of warm soup until smooth. Stir into the pot until well incorporated, and bring back to a gentle simmer for about 5 min.

6 Slice the kielbasa into thin rounds and add to the soup. Season to taste.

Garnish with sliced eggs, fresh dill and a splash of malt vinegar.


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