My Grandmother's Recipe: Grandma Rose's Borscht

my grandmother's recipe Feb 19, 2024

When this recipe was given to children and grandchildren, it was handed over in this way …

'Mushrooms, beets, potatoes, onions, tomatoes or tomato juice, lemon, milk … cook and serve mushed or whole.'

The assumption was, you’d have hung around enough times in the making to know approximately how much of each and ‘how to’. Salt and pepper, dill and a dollop of sour cream were so inherent, there wouldn’t be a thought towards them as named ingredients. It was so ordinary to make this country-style borscht, my Grandma would probably be befuddled that someone wouldn’t have enough info to put it together with the above instructions.

But to fill in the blanks, here’s a little more help …

2 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind you like, and more if you want)

6 medium beets - diced (heirloom or otherwise, preferably from your own garden)

1 medium potato - diced (not really considered an ingredient but rather a binding tool for the soup to form around)

1 medium onion - diced (again, what’s soup without an onion?)

Tomatoes or a 28oz can of tomato juice for liquid (oh, be sure to peel those tomatoes, remove the seeds, and chop if you’re using fresh)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more, or less - to preferred taste)

2 cups milk (in Grandma’s way, always whole … I imagine any milk or milk substitute would do now)

… and those assumed ingredients: salt and pepper to taste, chopped fresh dill and dollop of sour cream

Sauté the mushrooms until tender. Cook beets, potato, onion, tomatoes together until tender (adding a little liquid if needed - stock or water). Then put all those together. If you like things mushed, mash them together to break them up or puree with a hand blender or food processor. If you like things whole, keep them as is. I like mine pureed. Either way, add lemon juice and seasonings, and bring it all back to a boil. Reduce heat, add milk, and let it heat through. Serve it with fresh dill and dollop of sour cream.

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