Beetroot soup – borscht or barszcz as we know it in Poland – is known in many different guises. This dramatic looking, crimson soup is the richest variety of borscht there is and can be served as a meal due to its thick, stew-like consistency. The traditional recipe uses soured beetroot juice but I’ve simplified the recipe by just adding some lemon juice and soured cream.
First prepare the meaty base for the soup. Place the steak in a large pan with the pimento berries and the bay leaf. Pour over the water and bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the steak from the pan, chop into bite- sized pieces and set aside.
Now add the carrots, parsnips, celery, leek and potatoes into the same pan and gently boil in water over a medium heat for about 35 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, boil the beetroot in the water until they are tender (again about 35 minutes), then peel and either dice into chunks or cut into strips (as you prefer). Add this mixture to the vegetables along with the chopped tomatoes and butter beans. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. If the soup is not red enough, you can always add some more beetroot juice.
When the potatoes are completely soft add the lemon juice, chopped parsley and reserved steak pieces. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving with a dollop of soured cream and some fresh parsley to garnish.
Polska by Zuza Zak
(Quadrille, £ 25)
Photography by Laura Edwards