John's Kitchen : Borscht

【明報專訊】Many restaurants all over Hong Kong are lying to you. To be fair, many restaurants in western countries do the same. They have borscht (羅宋湯) on the menu. What they really do is serve a British tomato soup and call it borscht. To get more sales they use an interesting-sounding Russian name. Borscht is a healthy Russian soup made with beetroot. It is not British and is not a watery tomato soup.

My mother's recipe is called "Soldatsky Borscht", which means soldier's borscht. This traditional recipe included many types of inexpensive food cooked together. Real borscht is a thick soup with many vegetables added to it. It was the food of strong farmers and soldiers, not the feeble-blooded Russian royalty. A bowl of hot borscht was very welcome in the cold Russian winter.

Borscht is traditionally served with a spoonful of sour cream. Often some heavy dark bread and beer are served along with it. People should object to this false advertising and demand that either the restaurant serve real Russian borscht or they call it British tomato soup. The word borscht is originally Russian and became an English word in 1884. It is from Yiddish (意第緒語), which is in turn from the Russian word meaning parsnip (歐洲防風草). Parsnip was the original ingredient in this soup. Parsnip was later replaced with beetroot. Since English, Russian and Yiddish all have different alphabets, several correct spellings are used in English, including borsch, borshch, borsht, bortsch and borscht.

text: John Larrysson