Borsch With Fish
Every Ukrainian family has its own style of borsch. (That’s the Ukrainian word; Russians spell it borscht.) Olga Koutseridi, who grew up in Mariupol, is a historian and collector of Ukrainian recipes; she’s documented more than 70 recipes, including her mother’s “tomato-centric and cabbage-centric” borsch, as well as this version often eaten in Mariupol. Borsch with fish is traditional in southern Ukraine, where Black Sea ports like Mariupol and Odessa have relied on fishing since ancient times. Modern cooks often use canned versions of local species like anchovies, gobies and sprats. With bell peppers and carrots along with the usual beets and cabbage, this soup is hearty and chunky, but also very light.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ⅔cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed (see Tip)
- 3bay leaves
- ½tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1medium beet, peeled
- 1large carrot
- 1onion, any kind (except sweet)
- 1medium red bell pepper
- 4medium potatoes (peeled or unpeeled)
- 1small bunch dill
- ½small head cabbage (¾ pound)
- 3tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2cups tomato juice
- 1to 2 (8-ounce) cans sprats in tomato sauce, or sardines in tomato sauce
- Sourdough bread (preferably 20 percent whole wheat or rye) rubbed with garlic, for serving
Step 1Place the beans in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 4 inches. Let soak for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with 8 cups of water, add the soaked beans, bay leaves and salt, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the beans are tender, 30 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on soaking time and age of beans.
Step 2While the beans cook, use the large holes of a box grater to shred the beet, then the carrot. Finely dice the onion and bell pepper. Cube the potatoes into medium pieces. Chop the dill. Shred the cabbage using a knife.
Step 3Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the shredded beets, sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, then add the carrot and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan.
Step 4Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the tomato juice into the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Step 5Once the beans are done cooking, add the potatoes and the beet-carrot mixture to the pot, bring to a boil over high, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the bell pepper and onion-tomato mixture. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cabbage to the pot along with the sprats and dill, and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Step 6Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let sit for 20 minutes to let all the flavors mingle. Remove and discard the bay leaves and adjust salt level as desired. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve with a side of sourdough bread rubbed with garlic.