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Borsch – Beetroot soup

Borsch - Beetroot soup
Borsch is another Russian dish that Azerbaijanis have adopted wholeheartedly.

Borsch can be made with lamb or beef or as a vegetarian soup. The key ingredient is beetroot, which gives borsch its distinctive, red colour.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves: 4-5


  • 900 g/1 lb 4 oz beef or lamb on the bone (optional)
  • 400 g/1 lb white cabbage
  • 2 beetroot (or 3 if you like a really red borsch)
  • 1-2 carrots (use 2 carrots if you are using 3 beetroot)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • butter
  • 1 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2-3 bayleaves
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch coriander and dill
  • sour cream to serve


  • Cut the meat into pieces into 50-60 g pieces, place in a pan and cover with cold water, 5 cm/2 inches above the level of the meat. Bring slowly to the boil and skim off the foam that forms on the surface. Add 1 tablespoon of allspice. Simmer over a low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Strain the broth. Remove the meat from the bones and return the meat to the broth.
  • As the broth cools, fat forms on top. This fat is not removed in traditional Azerbaijani cooking, but it can be skimmed off and thrown away for those who don’t like very fatty soups. Broth can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Finely chop the onion. Grate the carrot through the larges hole in the grater and the beetroot through a smaller hole. Slice the cabbage finely. Dice the potato.
  • Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, fry until golden, then add the carrots and beetroot and cook until soft. Add the tomato paste or a peeled tomato and stir well. Cook for another couple of minutes. (If the broth is fatty, or you are short of time, you can skip this stage and just add the chopped vegetables to the broth. Frying in butter first does improve the flavour though.)
  • Add the hot broth and meat, or vegetable stock, to the vegetables and bring to the boil. When the broth starts to simmer, add the cabbage, potatoes and bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle chopped dill and parsley on top and serve with sour cream.

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