When I was young my mom would make Borscht soup once a year – always when the beets were just harvesting. She would can it – jars and jars of it in our well house. Pretty purple/red jars. It has been at least a decade since I have eaten it. For some reason I had an incredible urge to make it today. I took a couple recipes and combined them with my ideas….and out came a very tasty soup. My version might not be as authentic as they come but it is pretty close – and quite fast to make.
Due to the very icky fresh beets I swallowed my pride and bought <gasp> canned beets. If using fresh you will need about a pound of them. Just cook in boiling water, let cool then peel and proceed. You can also use fresh cooked beets that often one can get at Trader Joes in the produce department.
Feel free to use any beef stock you like – I used low sodium beef bullion as I can control the sodium. This makes a soup very attractive to those on sodium restricted diets. If not, well, shake that salt shaker away.
2 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ pounds stew beef, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 quarts water (8 cups)
8 tsp low sodium beef bouillon
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed small
3 small yellow potatoes, cut into small wedges
1 10-ounce bag of shredded cabbage
1 15-ounce can beets, drained
Sour cream (and use full fat!)
Melt the sugar in a dry pan over medium-high heat, and when the sugar is just turning a deep caramel color, add the beef and kosher salt. Add in at least 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper. Stir/shake the beef around until it is well browned, about 2 minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar, water, beef bouillon and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer the beef until it is tender, about 1 hour covered.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Warm the olive oil in a large heavy pot and sauté the onions, carrots and potatoes over medium-high heat until they are beginning to brown. Add the cabbage on top and turn off the heat. Let them sit till the hour is up for the beef. Add the sautéed vegetables to the soup and continue simmering until the vegetables are tender (about 10-15 minutes).
Cut the beets into wedges and add to the soup. Let heat through, taste and add more salt & fresh ground black pepper if desired. Discard the bay leaf.
Serve up bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream.
Serves 4-8, depending on bowl size/appetite.