Those of you whose only experience with borscht is as a cold magenta liquid, perhaps served with a single boiled potato, think again! This version of borscht (there are many variations) hails from Russia & the Ukraine (the former is more the Polish/Yiddish variety), and is more like a hearty stew than a sort of beet-based gazpacho. It’s still very much peasant food, though: immensely nutritious, satisfying, and seasonal. Perfect for snowy winter nights!
It’s also effortlessly vegetarian, and even vegan if you skip the dollop of sour cream at the end, or use a non-dairy version of the sour cream.
In a nod to our fabulously frugal roots, I recommend that you resourcefully save the beet greens, saute them in a little olive oil, and serve them with a dash of sherry vinegar alongside the steaming bowls of borscht. A recipe (if you could even call it that, it’s so simple) follows the borscht recipe.
Na Zdorov’ye! (Vodka optional.)
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 green pepper, diced
2-3 cups cabbage, shredded (approx 1/2 medium cabbage)
2 beets, shredded
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces tomato paste
8 cups vegetable broth
1 apple, diced
1 russet or Yukon Gold potato, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
juice of one lemon*
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced, plus more for garnish as desired
In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high. Saute onion, celery, carrot, and green pepper until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add cabbage and beets and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic, incorporating fully, then add the vegetable broth, apple, potato, and bay leaf, raising heat to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the smoked paprika, lemon, salt and pepper to taste, then cover again and cook over as low a heat as you can manage for at least another hour; two if possible. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if using, and a generous sprinkling of fresh dill. (Don’t skip the dill, even if you omit the sour cream!)
* When Donna tested this for me, both for quality assurance and so Jim could skillfully photograph it (thanks, guys!), she tried using 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in place of the lemon juice and dill. I personally love the dill, but you should definitely try her variation if it sounds more up your alley!
SAUTEED BEET GREENS
Reserved greens, washed, de-stemmed, and torn into approx 3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry (or red wine) vinegar
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softening. Add greens to skillet and saute until greens are wilting and tender (not too long). Toss with vinegar and serve with a bit of salt and pepper if desired.
— posted by Anne