O mój Boże I’ve stumbled upon on what is, perhaps, (modestly) the best flipping borscht I have ever had. Armed with just cold hunger, some old (squishy) beets and today’s Náplavka Market’s offerings, here it is, hurriedly scribbled down between noisy gulps and mouthfuls of ahhh

Borscht is Polish, Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian…etc depending on whom you ask- and there are about as many ways to prepare it as there were Solidarność members pre- September 1981 (up to 10 million!).

For this reason, I choose to abandon (any/every) recipe and venture forth, blindly, by feel and by taste.

It’s so good, Radio Maryja wouldn’t approve.

* (if you eat meat, I can imagine this is divine with a nice marrow bone and beef shank/cheeks cooked down to falling-apart tenderness…)

**carrots, parsnips, swede, and others of the root-veg family, would also probably add to the greatness.

You will need:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped onion

5-6 beets (preferably with stems and greens- if not: also 2 large  pieces of swisschard, all chopped)

2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped into just a few big chunks)

¼ fennel bulb

knob of butter

1-2 large mushrooms

5-6 cherry tomatoes

handful of chopped parsley

splash of dry white wine

pinch chili flakes

2-3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp tomato paste


1 tbsp sugar

1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

This is what you do:

  1. To a dollop of olive oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot add onion and beet/ swisschard stems, salt to taste.
  2. Add some rather large chunks of garlic saute for a bit
  3. Add about a ¼ sliced fennel bulb, saute and add knob of butter
  4. Throw in sliced mushrooms (large chunks), saute
  5. …add about 5-6 chopped cherry or plum tomatoes and chopped parsley… saute!
  6. Add peeled chopped beets, keep saute-ing!
  7. Pour in a bit of white wine to deglaze the pot
  8. Add in your sliced swisschard leaves, a pinch of chili flakes, coarsely chopped fresh dill
  9. Pour in some water, enough to cover solids- you will adjust the other tastes depending on amount
  10. Add a bit of tomato paste
  11. Pour in 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or more if you like (keep tasting after each addition to get the balance of everything just right)
  12. If you feel something is lacking, add a tablespoon sugar, stir and taste: better?
  13. If not add a little more butter/salt/pepper
  14. Cover and simmer the hell out of it (about 1/2 hour)
  15. Serve with white yoghurt/ sour cream and fresh dill
  16. Swoon
  17. Fall to your knees
  18. Repeat.

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