Long time ago, I was sure green borsch is unique for Ukrainian cuisine. In reality, a similar dish exists in many cuisines all over the world. For regions with four-season climates, a spring soup with local greens is a must. Similar to red borsch, there are many variations of green borsch in Ukraine. In our family, this soup was always made with a combination of sorrel and young nettle. First, potatoes were cooked in chicken stock and mashed to thicken it. Second, chopped sorrel, nettles, and scallions were added. Quickly brought to boiling, our soup was finished with dropped eggs. Done!In my book, I shared my version of Piryatin (Poltava region) green borsch. Diced potatoes should be fried for this soup. Carrots and parsley root add some sweetness to balance sour sorrel. Piryatin green borsch is thickened with some flour and served with boiled eggs, chopped or sliced.
I miss changing seasons and seasonal foods in evergreen Central Texas. We are blessed and spoiled by never-ending bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. How can you really appreciate the smell of cucumbers, if they are available year-round? So, I like having foods and ingredients I wait for, like sorrel. One of the most important ingredients for Ukrainian green borsch, fresh sorrel was not available in Central Texas at all for a long time. It changed about two years ago, when Central Market started selling it on Easter. If you crave for green borsch in Austin, now is perfect time to cook it!
The recipe below is one of my variations with a strong ox tail stock. I cook it in slow cooker overnight. Cover ox tail segments (usually, it is 1 tail per package) with 1 gallon of cold water, bring to boiling on high, reduce to low, cook for 6-8 hours, and strain the stock in the morning. Reserve the segments with meat. Refrigerate or freeze them separately until ready to use. I do not add any spices, herbs, vegetables, or salt. I want it to be tabula rasa.
If an ox tail is too exotic for you, use any stock of your choice, or water. Adjust the toppings (sour cream/yogurt, dropped/boiled eggs) to your taste and diets. Sorrel and other greens are the main hero in this soup, they create the flavor and pack it with spring goodness! Besides mature fresh sorrel leaves, during the season Central Market sells a salad mix Zesty Lemon Arugula with baby arugula and sorrel. Younger greens make the taste of green borsch milder, but are convenient, because you can skip chopping and use them whole.
Nutrition label shows values for a portion of soup without ox tail segment meat.