The So-You-Thought-You-Didn't-Like-Borscht? Borscht
1 bunch (approximately 3 large) beets
1 medium-sized yellow onion
2 medium-sized carrots
2 cups chopped green cabbage
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Butter (approximately 2 tablespoons---I use salted butter)
Margarine (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Cut the stalks off the beets and save for a tasty greens dish. Wash the beets under cold water, place in large pot, cover with water and boil till done (about one hour---you'll know when they're done when they have a bit of a give). Obviously, smaller beets cook in less time. Place beets and the remaining juice in the refrigerator to cool. You can leave it overnight and make the soup the next day, or you can continue on.
Finely chop one onion and sauté in 2 tbsp margarine. Set aside. Chop about a third of a head of cabbage (perhaps 2 cups) into bite-sized pieces. Sautee in 2 tbsp butter. Grate 2 medium-sized carrots and toss in with the sautéing cabbage. Set aside.
Remove the beets from the refrigerator. The outer skin should peel off easily with your fingers (this is really messy!). Cut off the top and the bottom. Cut the beets into small, bite-sized pieces.
In one large soup pot, add 2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Add the cabbage and carrots, the sautéed onions and the beets and some of the remaining beet juice. Add a small hand full (approximately 4 tbsp) fresh dill, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Add some of the beet juice in to get the consistency you like---I like mine pretty hearty. Stir occasionally.
Allow to heat but not boil. At the very end, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. Season and play around with to taste---I tend to add a little extra butter and vinegar, but that's just me. Remove from heat.
The borscht is ready to serve and is best with a small spoonful of sour cream.
After you sample the soup, start the clean-up and try to get others to eat the soup. Yes, this is part of the directions. You'll see what I mean about both! Good luck!
Pairs Well With
I've tried Borscht a few times in my life. And, as a gal of Eastern European stock, I'm embarrassed to say I've never particularly cared for it. But this one is amazing! You'll never buy Borscht in a jar again!
First, a fair warning: BEETS ARE EXTREMELY MESSY!!!
Outside of the mess, a terrific Borscht is easy to make. Honestly, the hardest part is getting people to taste it. I've never encountered such a resistance to soup. Normally an offer of soup goes a little something like this:
"Would you like some Black Bean Soup?"
"Yes, I would. Thank you very much."
Instead I got this:
"Would you like some Borscht?"
(Pause. Look closely at the soup. Pause again. Make a face.)
"What's in it?"
"Beets, cabbage, carrots, a little onion."
(Pause. Look at soup again. Cock your head like a Pomeranian. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Squint eyes, nose and forehead. Pull hands close to body. Take a step back. Peer cautiously into soup. Pause again.)
"Well...okay, I guess."
And this was at a soup kitchen! Okay, I'm kidding about that. But that's the reaction you should expect.
However, those who were brave enough to try gave it glowing reviews. I have converted many people to borscht and beets---yes, some had never even tried beets!
This is my own recipe, culled from many, many variations on Borscht and the flavors and textures of the Polish cooking my 100% Polish grandmother made.