Vegetarian Borscht with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Vegetarian Borscht with Chanterelle Mushrooms
Вегетаріанський борщ з лисичками і чорносливом

From Ukraine with Love, June, 2022

Sour cream and dill on everything is our family motto. Just kidding, as there’s also garlic. And this flavorful vegetarian mushroom borscht is no exception. I added some beautiful prunes for sweetness and chanterelle mushrooms for a deep, earthy taste. It’s a very traditional flavor combination that is rarely used today. We take our borscht very seriously in Ukraine. At some point, it may even become illegal to eat it without sour cream. I know that I’ve never seen a bowl that did not include a finishing dollop. In fact, the thought of eating borscht without rich sour cream on top and garlicky pampushky on the side makes me cringe. I guess that makes me a true borscht patriot.

Serves 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

1 medium tomato, diced

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 1 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium red beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 small bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups chanterelle mushrooms, halved lengthwise

4 prunes, pitted and roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup drained canned white beans, rinsed

1 small head green cabbage, cored and shredded

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill and flat-leaf parsley, in equal parts,

Sour cream, for serving

Pampushky (page 00), for serving

In a medium-large pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring from time to time, for 2 minutes longer. 

Now it’s time to add water (or vegetable broth, if you prefer). It is always a bit tricky to say how much because the ideal amount is never the same. It will depend on how big your pot is and the volume of your vegetables. For me, it’s usually 3 to 3 1/2 quarts, but I never measure the exact amount. You want enough to cover all the vegetables by about 1 inch. You can always add more water later, if needed. Once the water is in the pot, add the potatoes, beets, bell pepper, mushrooms, prunes, and bay leaves and bring the mixture to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, turn down the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.

Add the beans and cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and the dill and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 2 more minutes longer.

Ladle the borscht into bowls and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream. Serve right away with the pampushky on the side.