Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.
I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.
This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.
Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
- 5 fresh bay leaves
- 3 pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
- 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1 (4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
- 1 full tablespoon finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 bunch fresh dill, woody stems removed, fronds minced