My first memorable encounter with borscht was at a pot-luck party I had in San Francisco, in which my friend Elisabeth brought a huge, must have been 12 or 16-quart, pot of drop-dead delicious, deep purply red soup filled with beets. Elisabeth’s grandparents were Ukrainian, and I think borscht was one of her favorite soups to make. Every time I make or eat borscht I think of my friend and the discovery of how good a soup made primarily of beets can be.
The wind is howling outside, if any leaves remain on the trees they are sure to come down today. Here is a wonderfully satisfying beet borscht, perfect for a cold weather day.
- 8 cups beef broth or beef stock*
- 1 pound slice of bone-in beef shank with a lot of meat
- 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
- 4 large beets, peeled, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 cup sour cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*Use gluten-free broth if you are cooking gluten-free
1 Put 4 cups of the beef broth, shank, and quartered onion in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
2 Remove the meat from the pot. Remove any bone, connective tissue, and excess fat. Chop up the meat, place in a bowl, and chill in the refrigerator. Let the broth cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator and let chill until cold—4 hours to up to a day.
3 When the broth is chilled, any fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Remove and discard this fat. Return the pot to the stove and add the remaining broth, the carrots, beets, and the diced potato. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
4 Add the chopped meat to the pot, the sliced cabbage, and a half cup of the fresh dill. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the cabbage is cooked through. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve ladled into bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill.