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Ukrainian Christmas Borscht with Vushka – Recipe

Christmas Beet Borsch with VushkaUkrainian Christmas Eve is a very solemn family time, and just as important of a holiday, as Christmas Day.

The day of Ukrainian Christmas Eve is a fasting day, thus no meat is consumed at all,  and all the meals are small, and very simple.  Some people abstain from eating all-together for the whole day, until the first star appears, and a 12 course meatless meal is being served for the whole family, to break the fast.

My mother did not use any shortening for Christmas Eve meal preparations, but rather a very fresh flax seed oil, which she had made especially the week before Christmas.  I loved the flavor of the fresh flax seed oil in all the meatless dishes.

Organic Flax seed oil

I have been searching for good flax seed oil,  and the Spectrum Organic Flax Seed Oil (above) comes closest to my recollection of my mom’s flax seed oil.

One of the 12 course meatless dishes served during a Ukrainian Christmas Eve, is a Traditional Ukrainian Borscht (Red Beet Soup).

This  is my favorite borscht recipe, and the only one I ever use for making borscht any time of the year, except that I use chicken or beef stock for non-meatless borscht.

This recipe serves 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups boiling water, or vegetable soup stock
  • 2 medium beats, peeled and shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar, or lemon juice (you may add more later one, once you get your salt and pepper just right to your taste)
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste  ( I use  Contadina brand)
  • 1 cup Savoy cabbage, shredded (this cabbage is much lighter in flavor and texture , than the regular green cabbage)
  • 2 Tbs flax seed oil
  • 1  whole onion
  • 1bay leaf
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs fresh dill , chopped
  • 1 oz dried mushrooms (optional) See TIP below

Directions:

  1. Saute 1 chopped onion in 2 Tbs oil until golden.
  2. Add shredded beats, carrot and celery.
  3. Cook for about 10 min.
  4. Add tomato paste and white vinegar, or lemon juice (I use vinegar)
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add to the boiling water or soup stock.
  7. Add whole onion, bay leaf , peppercorns.
  8. Bring to boil again and simmer for 20 min.
  9. Add shredded savoy cabbage.
  10. Simmer for another 15 minutes,  or until cabbage is done.
  11. Remove the whole onion , bay leaf and peppercorns.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Add chopped dill (for a more tangy flavor, you may add more vinegar, 1 tsp at a time).

Vushka

Serve with homemade vushka (mushroom dumplings, pictured above), or  mushroom tortellini, cooked according to package directions.

To make vushka, you may follow my varenyky (pierogi) recipe for the dough, but cut the recipe in half, and use a much smaller cutter (2 inch in diameter – a shot glass is perfect for this).   Once you seal in the filling, then wrap the varenyky around your index finger, and pinch the ends together, to form a vushko (ear like shape).

Filling:

  1. Use 1 Tbs of vegetable or flax seed oil, to saute 1/2 onion, chopped.
  2. Add the chopped mushrooms, or saute 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh mushrooms, until all the liquid is cooked out.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove from heat, and mix in 1 Tbs of flavored bread crumbs, to hold the mixture together, for easier handling.
  5. Fill as mentioned above.

TIP: You may add another 1 Tbs of flax seed oil to the finished borscht, if you feel it needs more flavor.  I also add a couple of dried mushrooms into the borscht at the beginning of cooking time, and remove them at the end, for additional flavor.

You may remove half of the cooked veggies from the cooked borscht, process them in the food processor, then add 1/2 of the mixture back to the borscht, for additional texture.

If you prefer clear borscht, you may remove all the veggies, puree them and save them for later use to make a batch of “quick borscht” by adding several cups of soup stock to the puree, and bringing it to boil.

I still have dried mushrooms from Ukraine and Poland, (I buy them there when visiting), so I do use them in my borscht, and add them to my vushka.  It definitely adds special flavor to the borscht. If you decide to use dried mushrooms, you need to simmer 1 oz of dried mushrooms in 3 cups of water, for an hour.  I also soak my dried mushrooms overnight in 1 cup of water, and use that water for cooking them.  Once cooked, strain the mushrooms through a cheesecloth, or coffee filter, save the mushroom broth to add to the borscht during  the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Chop the mushrooms very finely to use for vushka filling.  If you do not make vushka, you can discard the mushrooms, or chop them up to serve with the borscht .

6 thoughts on “Ukrainian Christmas Borscht with Vushka – Recipe”

  1. Diana says:

    I love that you share the history and your family traditions with your recipes. Thank you so much for being a wonderful friend. I wish you and your family all the best and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! That was so sweet of you to mention my husband and kids! <3

    I may have asked, but did the grandkids sit with Santa?!

  2. Suburban Grandma says:

    Thank you Diana.
    Your wedding posts are just breathtaking. What a great service you are doing to all the young ladies who are searching for ideas.
    My granddaughter did not warm up to Santa, so she did not wish to sit on his lap…maybe next year.

  3. Natalie says:

    This Ukee recipe looks great too!

    If I wanted to look this borscht as the meat version do I just use 6 cups of chicken or beef stock instead of 6 cups water or vege stock? or will you be posting another borscht with meat in the future?

    You are such a great cook!!!!

  4. Suburban Grandma says:

    I love the meatless borscht so much, that I always cook it this way, not just for Christmas. If you like the meat stock, then you can make your own broth from chicken or beef, or pork, and follow the rest of the recipe as is. For a quick borscht you can use ready made broth. Cooking is easier than baking, because you can change the recipe to your own taste, and still have great results.
    Thank you for the compliment. I think I missed my calling to be a cook, rather than an accountant….lol

  5. Natalie says:

    I love cooking too, I find it really relaxing.. only though when my cooking turns out ok…lol
    I am looking forward to more of your yummo recipes in the future.

  6. Suburban Grandma says:

    Oh, I know what you mean. Since I love trying new recipes, as well as recreating old ones, some of them are not much to brag about…..lol I only post the ones that I like and my family enjoys as well.

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