If you like soup and enjoy sweet and sour, you’ll probably like borscht. You don’t have to be Jewish (or Russian) to like it, any more than you have to be Jewish to love Jesus. Come to think of it, some Jewish people don’t like borscht. One is my Jewish daughter Lyn. She doesn’t like it because the most common variety is made from beets. Lyn hates beets. She hated them from infancy, even before she could say the word, but that’s another story.
Fortunately for beet haters like Lyn, borscht can also be made from coarsely shredded cabbage and even spinach. Bottled borscht is usually sold in the kosher sections of supermarkets in most major cities. Its main characteristic is the sweet and sour flavor obtained by combining lemon juice and/or vinegar and some form of sugar or sweetener. Borscht may be tart or sweet, thick or thin. It may or may not contain meat and sauteed onion. If you want meat borscht kosher style, do not put sour cream on it (see below). Borscht is a subjective experience open to endless interpretation limited only by the chef’s imagination. Therefore we will not print a recipe. Just make it any way you choose.
Borscht can be eaten hot or cold. Hot cabbage or beet borscht with chunks of boiled beef in it makes a stick-to-the-ribs winter soup. Cold and meatless beet or spinach borscht makes a great summer appetizer. With the right accompaniments, either can be a light meal.
Boston, my hometown, is not exactly the Borscht Belt,” but we knew how to enjoy borscht at my house. We drank it from a glass as a cold mid-afternoon snack or made a bowlful into a light summer supper by adding slices of hard-boiled eggs and potatoes and a generous spoonful or two of sour cream. Accompanied by a thick slab of buttered black pumpernickel and fresh corn on the cob, all it needed was a dessert of New England blueberries swimming in their own syrupy purple-red juice. They turned your tongue and lips purple, but who cared? And we didn’t worry about sugar or cholesterol, either. Well, OK, those who are health conscious might want to use non-nutritive sweetener and margarine. It will be almost as good, so make it your way, dig in and enjoy!
This borscht commercial has been brought to you by your editor and other Jews for Jesus borscht lovers, but please don’t write and ask us how to make it. We have no formal recipe.