I made my first attempt at borscht this week. If you don't know what borscht is, it is essentially vegetable soup but it is served with sour cream and dill. Borscht is the quintessential Ukrainian food.
Borscht is the Ukrainian equivalent to Chili. Everyone knows what it is. Most people like it. No two recipes are the same. A person only really likes the version their mom made. (or in our girls' case, the way their school made it.)
We ate a lot of borscht in Ukraine so we tried it several ways: watery, thick, beef, pork, beans, large chunks, small chunks...you get the idea. And so did we but that doesn't really matter, what matters is how my girls want it to taste so I looked at a few dozen recipes, analyzed the borscht their older brother made for us in Ukraine, asked the girls for their tips, and then just mashed it all together to create this above bowl of soup.
Ukrainians do not use a lot of spices in cooking. Things are served pretty bland and have a similar taste because they essentially all contain: fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh dill. That is not a bad thing! First of all, dill immediately transports me back to my Great-Grandparents yard. They grew so much dill! Also, in Ukraine, they are usually cooking fresh food instead of convenience foods from cans and boxes. It doesn't need as much flavor enhancement. In addition to those flavors, I added some chicken bouillon cubes. The vegetables used were: tomato juice, carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and beets.
My borsht experts requested that the beets be cut larger next time. (I had shredded them so next time, I will cut them.) JoJo loved it but then again she loves sour cream on anything. She also kept sneaking dill to eat plain...just like her big sister, Michelle. Nancy was like, "Ummm so it is vegetable soup without meat? It's ok."
When we have been served borscht in a restaurant both in Ukraine and in the states, it came with little garlic rolls. Our girls were unfamiliar with that but they enjoy garlic bread so it was fine with them. Honestly, in the future, I won't bother making rolls if it is not important to them.
Next Ukrainian food we will be making: Nalysnyky