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My Dad specialized in a few culinary delights when I was a kid, Borscht was one of them.  It usually was accompanied by some communist humor, jokes about the Gulag (Russian forced labor camps). But.. truth be told, despite my father painting it as survival food, we all really liked it. And, turns out after a little research, that it’s quite traditional to Eastern Europe and Slavic cuisine (the Homeland of my father’s people).

Ingredients

• 8-10 cups water
• 1 pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank/ or beef bones for broth and a little stew meat- this is pretty flexible… you can even make it vegan/vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead
• 1 large onion, peeled, chopped
• 3 cloves
• 3 bay leaves
• 4-6 large beets, peeled, chopped
• 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
• 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 small thinly sliced cabbage
• 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1/4 cup dried dill
• 1-2 tsps of caraway seed (optional)
• 3 Tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar
• sour cream
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1 Bring water, the beef shank/beef bones/stew meat, bay leaves, cloves, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, a couple hours. Or cook in a pressure cooker one hour.

2 Transfer meat to work surface; trim fat, sinew and bone and discard. Chop meat; cover and chill. Cool broth slightly. Chill in pot until cold (so you can remove some of the fat, if you so choose).

3 Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard. I like to leave some. Our neighbor Donna gives it in small amounts to her dogs with their raw meat diet. If you’re really adventurous you can make rennet bird feeders. Add beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

4 Stir in meat, cabbage, dill, caraway, and vinegar; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining dill garnish.

Delicious!! Fabulous served with dark rye bread. If you are making a vegetarian version add some butter, or olive oil (a couple tablespoons). It improves the flavor and it’s good for you to have some good fats along with your vegetables.

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