Saturday, October 2, 2010


When I was about 10 my mom took me to Russian restaurant for dinner. This type of cuisine was remarkably unusual in our small, suburban Ohio town.  Although housed in a strip mall, I remember that the place seemed exotic; the way it was decorated, the patterns and colors used. 
I also remember trying Borscht there for the first time. Borscht- that Russian soup made famous because of its deep, beet-red color. My mother tried to convince me to order the chicken Kiev, rather than the Borscht, but I insisted on the soup. Secretly, I was as surprised as she when I realized that I loved the Borscht.
Although I don't often make it, (it rarely comes to mind, when thinking of seasonal soups), I am always happy when I do. It is lovely.
This recipe I made with cubed beef in the soup-- this is delicious and makes the dish heartier, but if you want to save time (and a cow), skip that step and don't use the beef roast.

4 quarts beef stock
1 and 1/2 pounds lean beef roast (optional)
1 bunch (2 large and 2 small) fresh, raw beets, trimmed of leafy tops
1 bunch (roughly 7) parsley roots, peeled (see pic below) or 1 parsnip
3 large leeks, trimmed of the dark green
Half head cabbage, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt

2 tablespoon fresh, chopped dill
1/2 cup sour cream

1) Place the beef roast in the beef stock, cover and bring to a very gentle simmer. Cook over low heat until fork tender, about 2-3 hours. this can be done the night before and stashed (beef AND stock) in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2) At the same time, wrap the beets in foil and place on a roasting tray. Roast in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, then add in the parsley root and leeks. Roast for 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then peel the skin from the beets. Cut all the vegetables up into chunks. While you are waiting for the beef to cook, mix the dill weed into the sour cream and stick back in the fridge.

3) When the beef os very tender, remove from the stock, place on a plate and allow to cool. Add the roasted vegetables and sliced cabbage into the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Once cool, chop or shred the beef into very small pieces. Now, blitz the soup and vegetables with an immersion blender or puree in a blender, return to the pot to heat, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

To serve: Ladle Borscht into bowls, pile in some beef and dollop in some sour cream. Serves about 10.

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