Since April I've celebrating celebrating all the independence days of as many countries as I can discover by finding a restaurant of its type in Houston or cooking something myself. August 24 was Ukrainian Independence Day. Since Ukraine separated from the USSR in the 1980s, the capitol is now Kiev and Ukraine's signature dishes are chicken Kiev, borscht (both the red beet and green sorrel varieties), holutubski, holodec, pierogis, and salo.
|Ukrainian painted blown eggs or pysanky for Greek Orthodox Easter|
|decorative breads made for Easter in Ukraine|
|holodec or pork aspic is popular|
|Ukrainian borscht is not limited to beets alone but also has added eggs, potatoes, beans, etc.|
|holubtsi or stuffed cabbage|
|salo, a type of fatback, is a food of cultural identity for Ukrainians|
So I decided to check out the Russian General Store in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston where many Russian and Eastern European Jews live to look for Ukrainian food. I love that they label all the foods with their country of origin and I found lots of picked and fried vegetables, prepared borscht, hearty dark rye and pumpernickel breads, sausages and preserved meats, gingerbread cookies, and unusual drinks (sea buckthorn fruit juice, kvass [a soft drink made from bread like beer], and koumiss [fermented mare's milk]). I picked up some canned prepared sorrel to make green borscht myself, since that type of borscht is not eaten in other parts of the former Soviet Union.
|The haul from the Russian General Store|
|Some cat-themed nesting dolls sold in the store|
|fresh sorrel look similar to beets or Swiss chard|
|don't be confused with sorrel flowers used to make a tart drink in the Caribbean and Mexico similar to hamaica which is in also in the hibiscus family|
|green or sorrel borscht|
2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 leek or onion
1 bunch of sorrel leaves or one can of sorrel
¼ cup white vermouth
3 waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), peeled and boiled
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil and add bouillon cubes, carrots, leeks, sorrel, lemon juice, vermouth, and salt and pepper. Cook soup slowly for 30 minutes. Add sliced cooked potatoes and garnish with chopped hard-boiled eggs. Alternatively thin egg noodles and even cooked beans may be added to change the flavor of the soup. The soup is very lemony so you may wish to add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil or Kerrygold butter at the end to add some fattiness to balance the taste.