The Lazy Cook's Guide to Borscht
Borscht (borshch) is a healthy and delicious Eastern European soup made from beets and cabbage. Although better known as a Russian dish, the Ukrainians are the real masters of borscht. My recipe does not match the wonderful flavor of my favorite Ukrainian borscht (a family recipe of the "if I tell you, I'll have to kill you" variety), but it is pretty darn good and relatively authentic.
Before you start this recipe be warned that it takes a long time to cook, preferably three hours or more. But it's worth it.
It also makes a heck of a lot of soup, but that's a plus, because borscht, like lasagna, is better the second day.
Exact quantities depend on how hearty you want your borscht. Personally, I prefer mine thick.
- about 1 pound of beef or lamb with bone, such as a lamb leg round
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4-6 medium carrots, chopped
- about 3 medium beets, peeled
- 2-4 medium potatoes
- about 1 small or 1/2 large head green cabbage, finely sliced
- dill (preferably fresh) to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
Put the meat in a large soup pot and cover with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil while you're chopping the onion, garlic, and one or two of the carrots, and dump the vegetables in as they're ready. Allow the soup to simmer over reduced heat for about half an hour, skimming off any foam that materializes.
Add the rest of the carrots, beets, and potatoes, and simmer for another hour, then take the beets out and carefully chop them into small pieces before returning them to the soup. Add the cabbage and stir into the soup until it starts to wilt, then add spices and salt and simmer for another hour.
Test the broth and adjust level of water, salt, and spices to your satisfaction. Simmer longer if desired, serve hot with sour cream when done.
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