Polish Easter Borscht aka White Borscht (Bialy Barszcz)

(Note: this is not a vegetarian dish. If you know a workaround, then read on, but to me, I associate this recipe strongly with the kielbasa flavor.) 

When I was a very small, I hated horseradish, so Easter would find me in a dress, tights, hard dress shoes picking at my bowl to find the pieces of cheese, hard-boiled egg and kielbasa, pretending that they weren’t contaminated with horseradish. Then we were stationed in Japan and wasabi found its way into our diet.
Now, I’ll also confess, that while I’ll eat just about anything, the last battlegrounds for my taste buds remain 1) mustard and 2) parsley. I’ve been coming around about mustard, as you’ll see with this recipe, but parsley– okay in spaghetti, but otherwise, why bother. Oddly I love cilantro… but that’s a taco story and we’re on borscht.

SERVES 4 Double if you have more folks or want leftovers

This will assume that you’ve already been doing Easter eggs and have hard-boiled eggs at hand. If not, start with that, cool and peel them. 
Also– you may or may not opt for lamb. If you do, no need to spend a fortune or get a big hunk. I found a small shoulder for around $5. 30. I cut the meat off the bones and it was plenty for this. You could also use beef or just ham.
From that point, all in all this recipe will take about 40 minutes to an hour to prep and have on the table. 
Step 1: If you are using the lamb shoulder, go ahead and trim it from the bone, trim the fatty bits off, and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside in small bowl. 
Step 2: Get out a largish cook pot and pour in the vegetable broth. Medium heat. Wash and cut your potatoes into bite size pieces. I found these “Celebration” potatoes — slightly larger than golf balls– didn’t bother to peel, just washed and quartered them. Add to broth. 
Step 3: Chop your onions and garlic and brown with some olive oil or butter. Add to potatoes. Next, brown your lamb or beef so its got a head start on cooking and had a chance to work in the onion and garlic. It doesn’t have to cook thoroughly, just give it a head start. Add to soup pot. Turn up the heat so it has a gentle bubble. If you are just using ham and kielbasa, skip the browning part. 
Step 4: Add the secret ingredient! I discovered this by accident, and it was a fantastic, serendipitous event. I told you, I don’t like mustard… but this is a very mild flavorful concoction with just the right horseradish element. If you can’t find Boar’s Head, you can use a similar mustard and add a dash of horseradish. I used two small spoonfuls.  Try one to start, taste it, add to your taste.
Step 4: Slice up the kielbasa into bite size pieces and add to the soup. Since it’s already cooked, you can add it at any time really. I added it about ten minutes before the potatoes were done to infuse the kielbasa flavor into the broth. 
Step 5: Set out your serving bowls. You will want to cube your cheese and set a handful of cubes in each bowl. Also add the hard-boiled egg slices and chopped chives.
Step 6: When potatoes are soft, you can ladle the soup over the cheese and eggs. Top with a few spoons of sour cream, garnish with extra chives.
Serve with warm bread and butter. Many recipes call for rye bread, I think sour dough is the way to go. 

Smacznego! (Enjoy your meal!)

 

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