This is a take on Olia Hercules’ zeleniy borshch, a spring broth that’s fragrant with soft herbs and sharpened with lemony sorrel. It was on the menu at our recent Ukraine fundraiser and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to make it at home.
It’s a wonderfully light and revitalising soup, really refreshing as we head into spring. There are many versions of this borshch in Ukraine and beyond. You can find Olia’s here and I’ve stuck to the spirit of it, though others call for the eggs to be beaten and stirred in, like a Greek avgolemono, and vary the veg.
I’ve tried to use what we have in the garden but it’s early days yet. Happily the sorrel is just beginning to poke its broad arrowheads out of the ground. We don’t have the beet leaves Olia calls for but you can replace it with chard or beet spinach, if you have any.
As I’d foraged some wild garlic and tender nettle tips I used those and I’m glad I did. They added freshness, flavour and colour to the borshch, I got a healthy walk out of it and who doesn’t like free food?
By all means vary the green elements according to what you have handy but remember it’s the sorrel’s astringent lemony bite that really makes this soup stand out. I think the fresh dill is non-negotiable too but it’s your dinner. The quantities given below work for me but you may prefer a different balance of flavours.
Although Olia uses duck stock and I used pheasant, this green borshch is easily made vegetarian or vegan by using a vegetable stock and, for vegans, omitting the eggs. Do please use a well-flavoured, good quality broth. There’s nowhere for a stock cube to hide here.
And please note you can donate to Olia’s Cook For Ukraine fundraiser via this link.
1.5 litres good quality stock
1 medium waxy potato, peeled and diced small (about 1.5cm)
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
50g wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped, a few leaves reserved for garnish
A handful of tender young nettle tips, chopped
80g sorrel leaves, central spines stripped if large roughly chopped
2 or 3 spring onions, sliced, green and white parts
10g fresh dill, chopped
5g fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
Edible flowers (optional)
Sour cream/yoghurt, to serve (optional)
Salt and pepper
Pour the stock into a large saucepan, add the potatoes, carrots and onions, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around five minutes or until the potatoes are just done and the carrots crisp-tender.
Add the chopped spinach and sorrel and cook for another few minutes. While the soup cooks, divide the sorrel between four bowls. It may look like a lot but it will wilt down to nothing when it meets the hot liquid. Strip the central spines from the reserved wild garlic leaves, splitting them in half lengthways.
Ladle the soup into the bowls, mounding up the vegetables in the middle. Add the dill and parsley, then a pile of chopped egg. Garnish with the garlic leaves and edible flowers, if using. If you like, serve sour cream or yoghurt on the side for people to add their own.