Sunday, February 28, 2010



There’s not much more to say besides: I love borscht. I can’t even remember where I first had it but, to me, everything about it is bliss. I love the color, the vinegary flavor, the excuse for a dollop of sour cream. I like my borscht to be very hearty, especially in the vegetable department. You can adjust the meat-vegetable ratio, or cut down the vegetable quantities, if you like a brothier soup, or if you’re one of those unfortunate people who suffers from the potentially flatulent properties of cooked cabbage. If so, I pity you, I pity you.

2 lbs cubed beef for stew

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 C beef pr vegetable broth

3 medium beets, peeled and cubed

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced (optional—I haven’t seen celery in any recipes, but I’m such a celery nut right now that I can’t help adding it…)

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional—I’ve seen potatoes in a lot of versions of borscht, but potatoes aren’t my favorite so I don’t usually use them—your choice!)

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp anise seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (8 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste

4-5 Tbs white vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream and fresh or dried dill to garnish

Get out your giant soup cauldron and start by browning your beef in the tablespoon of oil. When it’s fragrant and golden, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon and add the onions and garlic to the pot with the remaining oil/juices. Sauté until translucent. Add the broth to the pot, then the remaining vegetables and the bay leaves. If you have the means, crush or grind the seeds (even the handle of your knife with the back of your palm can make a big difference in opening up the flavors) before adding them to the pot with the browned beef. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sugar and vinegar) and simmer 20 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dill.

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