Barszcz czerwony, Borshch, Borscht

The soup that most people associate with this part of the world is barszcz, or borshch if you want a screwed-up English spelling. The assumption is that this is always a red, beetroot, soup and comes from Russia. Of course, we know that there are in fact two main types, red & white and that the red type originates in………..Poland? According to this interesting, in a passing kind of way, article, red barszcz started out in Ukraine and then spread to all Slavic lands. Would any of our Polish readers disagree with that, I wonder?

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the white stuff which is very similar to a good żurek and in my limited experience comes as the liquid with floating bits of white kielbasa (and possibly egg?). I’m certain the recipe varies from place to place. If I recall correctly, Easter is the main occasion for white barszcz so not long to wait.

As for the red stuff, I can take it or leave it. For me, doing anything to a beetroot other than pickling it is to take it well outside its comfort zone and to heat it up is, well, strange. So this is a difficult country for me when hot beetroot is served up so often either as czerwony barszcz or as a hot vegetable with many meat-based meals. All the more difficult when everyone around me is waxing lyrical about whether the beets served up today are good, bad, indifferent and showing great interest in the recipes. The best thing you can do with red barszcz is to nuke it with as many spices and floaty bits as you can get away with without annoying the barszcz-police such that it becomes as far away from beetroots+water+heat as you can get. I think the sour cream helps a lot but I’ve not often had that served up with it here. It is often served here with uszka, dumplings (more or less), floating in it. Alternatively, you can get a cup of it and drink this while munching on a krokiet, sort of pastry-like thing.

Almost forgot. What is nice, in the summer, is the cold beetroot soup who’s name escapes me in Polish but it begins with “L”, I think? (EDIT – Thanks to Darth – the name is chłodnik – not an L in sight!). Poland’s own gazpacho. I have very little idea how this is made but it uses the green parts of the beet as well as the tuber. It resembles muddy pond water after a herd of buffalo have marched through leaving grassy bits floating around but it tastes really good. Most Poles I know, don’t like it. According to Wiki article linked to above, this is “Mostly Lithuanian”, well, it was all the same commonwealth once upon a time.

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9 thoughts on “Barszcz czerwony, Borshch, Borscht

  1. darthsida says:

    Re: HELP
    If the thing weren’t to start with an L, I’d say chłodnik

  2. scatts says:

    Exactly that! Forget the L, that was a red herring. I shall edit now.


  3. Pawel says:

    gee scatts food again? i’m reading this on the bus and now i’m hungry:)

  4. Warning about barszcz: looking down the lavvy after you’ve digested a miseczka or three (who can resist tesciowa’s barszcz?) can lead you to frightful conclusions. “OH MY GOD! BLOODY STOOLS! I’VE GOT BOWEL CANCER!” What’s worse, the barszcz continues to colour your doings for days. So before you start mentally preparing yourself for the horrors of endoscopy and chemotherapy, remember the barszcz goes in deep red and comes out deep red.

  5. scatts says:

    Perhaps I will delay eating breakfast for a while! :)

  6. Ai says:

    The first time my mom in law served me with Barszcz soup I kind of react..’whats this? so red!..hehhe! I thought it’s a water concocted with red food coloring. hahah! but hubby explains that the name is barszcz from burak -beetroot in english. I did not like it at first, it like a devils soup. That’s how I referred it. lol! because of the colors its like drinking freshly squeezed blood..whew! nevertheless, after I gave birth i have to give in to its taste and color coz the necessity for me to bring back the iron in my body. I was bombarded with burak juice that i can’t take and more when my baby’s doctors advised me to give my baby barszcz or burak juice to get away with constipation. i came to love it. See how nutritious it is for an anemic woman like me. wink! Now, im trying to learn how to make chłodnik..they say its good.

  7. scatts says:

    I think chłodnik is one of those things you either love or hate.

    There’s a recipe here although not necessarily traditional:

  8. Ai says:

    oh tks! i got the recipe too from that site. ikea offers a good chłodnik hubby says but haven’t tried it yet. next time though.

  9. […] Mis recetas         |         Imagen: Polandian Receta de […]

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