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Traditional Barszcz is a popular soup throughout Central and Eastern Europe. This winter soup which is rumored to have healing properties is spicy and tart. Not spicy as in heat, but lots of garlic. The tartness comes, in this case, from lemon juice and offsets the natural sweetness of the beets.
I’ve found the flavors are even better after a day or two. It makes great sipping in the evening. The original recipe calls for meaty soup bones. My market didn’t have any, so I bought some very meaty beef short ribs.
All the wonderful ingredients go into a pan. After a good long simmer, everything is strained out and the broth is served.
I’ve made this combination, of homemade barszcz and krokiety, twice. The first time, I made proper herbed crepes, what the Polish would call pancakes, and used the meat from the ribs to make krokiety or croquettes, a common side to accompany barszcz. The meat was mixed with sauerkraut, onion, and mushroom – all finely diced, and bound it together with a cup of bechamel sauce. This filing went into herb crepes; the rolled up little bundles were browned in oil. On Christmas, Eve krokiety will not include meat.
The second time I made this, I was no longer a lady of leisure. I’m now working 40+ hours a week, and as much as I enjoy cooking, I do try to minimize the time I spend on my feet. This time I tried a shortcut that worked out very well.
I bought a package of egg roll wrappers and used them inplace of the crepes. The filling also included half a cup of diced sauerkraut and enough bechamel sauce ( I made half of this recipe and had a bit to spare.) to bind everything together. The Polish style egg rolls were dipped in beaten egg and then bread crumbs before frying.
This made about 35 egg roll croquettes. They’re delicious with Barszcz or maybe with a mushroom gravy over the top.
A tart and spicy winter soup to warm the soul!
- 4 large or 6 small beets, peeled and halved
- 1 pound meaty beef bones
- 1 medium carrot, trimmed and peeled
- 1 medium parsnip, trimmed and peeled
- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
- 1 leek, white and green parts, trimmed, halved lengthwise and rinsed
- 1 long celery stalk
- 3–4 dried mushrooms
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large pinch of dried marjoram
- 6 peppercorns
- About 12 cups of water, depends on the size of your pot
- Juice of 1 lemon, or about 4 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper
- Add the beets, beef bones, carrot, parsnip, onion, leek, celery, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaf, marjoram, and peppercorns to a Dutch oven or stockpot
- Add enough water to the pot to cover the ingredients
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about two hours
- Skim off foam as it appears
- Strain the soup through a colander
- If it tastes watery, cook it down a bit to concentrate the favors
- Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper, it should taste garlicky and tart
- Serve the clear, hot soup in bowls or cups for sipping
An accountant by trade and a food blogger since 2009, Lois Britton fell in love with Polish cuisine during the years she lived in Poznań, Poland. As the creator of PolishHousewife.com, she loves connecting readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.