Cook for Ukraine: How to make Olia Hercules’ green borshch

Ukrainian chef and food writer Olia Hercules has shared one of her recipes so you can have a go at creating your own Ukrainian dish at home.

Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules have been close friends for over a decade, sharing their love of food and cooking.

Shortly after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian and Ukrainian chef duo teamed up to launch Cook for Ukraine.

Russian and Ukrainian chef duo Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules launched Cook for Ukraine together

Cook for Ukraine is an online initiative which encourages chefs, food writers, home cooks and restaurateurs to make Ukrainian and Eastern European dishes and raise funds for Unicef UK.

Since its launch the initiative has raised over £480,000 and has become a global movement.

You can get involved by hosting your own Cook For Ukraine supper club or bake sale, donating through the Just Giving page and sharing your pictures, recipes and stories on social media by adding the #CookForUkraine hashtag.

Ukrainian chef and food writer Olia Hercules has shared one of her recipes so we can have a go at creating your own Ukrainian dish at home.

Green Borshch is a popular Ukrainian dish

Green borshch

“Come spring, we pick basketfuls of sorrel from mum’s vegetable patch, pick duck eggs from her ducks and cook this emerald-green beauty,” said Olia.

“You can use chicken or vegetable stock, but rich duck stock tamed by sharp fresh sorrel is a winner for me.

“It is not a true ‘borshch’ but more of a sorrel broth.”

Olia explained that borshch is the Ukrainian spelling of the famous soup.

“Grandma Lusia always made a huge pile of Moldovan flat breads to go with it,” she added.

“I would keep the legs and breasts for a different dish, use the back, wings and giblets for this soup.”

Serves 4-6

Stock

  • 1 duck, back, wings and giblets
  • 1 onion, peeled but left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper

Broth

  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 100g beetroot leaves and stalks, chopped or 1 small beetroot, julienned
  • 50g sorrel, sliced with its stalks
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 chicken eggs (or duck eggs), hard-boiled and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 60g sour cream to serve

Method

Place the duck, giblets (bar the liver), onion and bay leaf into a large saucepan and cover with 2.5 litres of cold water. Add a pinch of sea salt.

Bring to a simmer and skim the surface, discarding all the scum.

Simmer on the lowest heat possible for 2 hours or until the duck meat falls off the bone.

The liquid will reduce by almost half. Keep skimming it from time to time.

Strain the broth into a bowl, reserve the duck bits and pour the liquid back into the pan. Check the seasoning – add salt and pepper to taste.

Pull the duck meat off the bones, discard the bones and set the meat aside.

Skim half a ladleful of duck broth from the very top (you are aiming to skim the fat here) and pour it into a frying pan.

Boil off the liquid for a minute until you are left with just duck fat.

Add the onions and carrot to the pan and sweat over a medium heat stirring all the time until the onion and carrot are soft and caramelised ever so slightly.

These will provide beautiful sweetness to the broth.

Introduce this to your stock, followed by potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the beetroot leaves and stalks and cook for 5 minutes and switch the heat off.

Place some duck meat into each serving bowl.

Then add the raw, chopped sorrel and spring onions on top and pour over the hot stock over them.

Garnish with chopped egg, dill and parsley.

Serve with a spoonful of good quality sour cream.

The recipe comes from Olia’s debut cookbook Mamuskha: Recipes from Ukraine and beyond.

You can support Cook for Ukraine and find all of Alissa and Olia’s recipes on their Just Giving Page. 

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