Summertime Borscht Soup

I am neither from Ukrainian or Russian descent, I did not have a grandma who taught me to make it, I just love beets and soup. Over the years I have made many versions of Borscht, and have never found a recipe for the exact way I like it to taste. So I created my own recipe. And it is the most delicious and hearty soup. Eat as is, serve with my Dilly sour cream mixture (recipe below), plain yogurt or chopped fresh dill. Crusty bread will go great with, however this soup shines on its own.

Just promise me one thing. Don’t EVER buy beets from a supermarket or store. Go to a farmer’s market. Grow your own. Make friends with someone who grows their own. We buy fresh in the summer from the local Hutterites at the farmer’s market, and I ‘can’ them for the winter time.

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And don’t offer any to PW. For her this would be dirt soup (Beets: you either love them or hate them…)

One more note. This recipe can be very easily made into a vegetarian/vegan dish. Omit the beef bones, and instead of water, add vegetable broth. You only need to let it simmer for 1 hour, not the 2-3 required with the bones. I make this version of it as well and it holds up equally.

Ingredients – measurements are not exact as soup is one of those things where you add a little more of what you like and leave out what you don’t…

  • One swirl in the pan of EVOO
  • Beef Bones – I used about 1 kg – ask your butcher for the freshest ones
  • sea salt (always!) and pepper (freshly ground, always!)
  • one big bunch of fresh beets with greens attached
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic OR 1/2 tsp dried (I used dried today)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • optional : 2 stalks celery, with leaves, diced (I did not use any!)
  • 1/2 cabbage shredded with a knife – any kind (I used green)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, with their juice
  • 8-10 cups boiling water (enough to cover everything in your pot)
  • Bay Leaf
  • 2 TB brown sugar (this helps counteract the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Chopped and thoroughly washed beet greens
  • 3 TB vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

Another note: beet juice stains. Wear an apron, wash your hands, wipe spills and don’t use anything white – spatulas or pots. Store leftovers in glass containers.

Preheat your pot with the oil. Season your beef with salt and pepper. Sear in the pot. Do this in batches, don’t crowd the pan so you can get all that lovely flavour.

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Meanwhile, peel and chop your beets and greens. The greens are only added at the very end, so set them aside.

When the beef has been browned, set aside. Sauce onion, garlic (if using powder can add it in later) and carrots. Scrape up the bits on the bottom.

Now add all the remaining ingredients (including the meat bones), EXCEPT the greens and the vinegar.

Everything should be just covered with water. Bring to a simmer.

Vegetarians: simmer for an hour

Meat Eaters: simmer for 2-3 hours. I simmered mine today for about 3 and a half.

Remove the bay leaf and beef bones with tongs. Wait for it to cool, then cut into small pieces – return pieces to the pot. Discard leaf and bones.

This is what makes my Borscht so good…. I take a third to half of it, and put it in my blender, pureeing it. I add it back to the soup, and it gives it an amazing rich, hearty flavour. And a great viscosity. Careful not to burn yourself.

Now stir in your beet greens and the vinegar. Turn the stove off. The greens will cook in the residual heat.

TASTE! See what you think. You may need more salt, more pepper, bring it to what you like.

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So pretty!!!

And serve. Proudly. It was a lot of work, but it’s done.

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Quick Dilly Sour-cream:

Mix together light sour cream with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Add in fresh dill, or dried if that’s what you have (if using dried let is sit in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour to blend).

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