Showing Love with Borscht-by Sister #3


I am not Ukrainian, yet I don’t think there is a culture that impacted my youth as much as Ukrainian culture did. My mom was Metis, but grew up with lots of Ukrainian friends. So she knew how to make borscht, perogies, cabbage rolls, and she was really good at these dishes. Her culinary skills were a bonus when she met our handsome Czech/Polish father.

Growing up, both my best friend and my boyfriend were Ukrainian. Terri and I met in grade two and even though she lives in the U.S. now, I still consider her my bestie. While I learned lots about Ukrainian culture from her family, we probably ate more dilly bars and brazier burgers than perogies, as they owned a Dairy Queen store. Whereas, my boyfriend Steve (who I dated from fourteen to twenty four)- his family was all about the food. His Baba was an amazing cook and generously taught me how to make many specialties. I’ll share her amazing holopchi recipe here in the future.

One of my favourite Ukrainian dishes is beet borscht. I recently visited St. Norbert market and picked up garden beets, potatoes, and onions, and pulled out a mound of dill weed from my freezer and went to work to make this rich delicious red soup. The recipe I use is from a friend I used to work with. It has a secret ingredient and while I love all borscht, I think this one is still my favourite.

Donna’s Borscht
4 large beets                          

4 large carrots

3 large potatoes

6-8 cups chicken broth  (enough to completely cover the vegetables)          

1/2 large cooking onion

1/2 lb side bacon               

20 oz can tomato soup

1 cup milk                              

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill                   

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

Peel and cube beets, and potatoes, slice carrots.  Place in a soup pot with enough chicken stock to cover them.  Boil until tender.  Meanwhile cut bacon into small pieces. Fry bacon and when almost done add chopped onion and cook till translucent.  Add bacon and onion mixture to soup pot. Add dill, can of tomato soup and milk. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream on the top.  Tastes even better the next day.

Sometimes I will add thinly slice cabbage to bulk the soup up.  You can skip the bacon and use vegetable broth to make a vegetarian version.

When war broke out in the Ukraine. I felt so helpless and really wanted to do something to help. So I contacted friends and family and offered to make them borscht in exchange for them making a donation to any organization supporting the people of Ukraine. I made 36 litres and together we donated approximately $2,500.00. My charity of choice was World Central Kitchen.  This team of volunteers is headed up by chef José Andrés and quickly set up to feed people fleeing to safety. So many lovely Ukrainians have feed me through my life, it was my turn to feed them. Praying for peace in Ukraine.

Kath’s quote: “The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.” – Tom Robbins

Love never fails.

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