Borscht is largely thought of as a Russian creation, but you'll find many versions of this soup served all over Europe. Beets give this soup its distinctive color and flavor, but it's the marriage of all the ingredients that ultimately make a bowl of hot borscht so satisfying. Yes, hot borscht. Cold borscht is perfectly fine when you need something cool on a warm day, but a piping hot bowl of borscht really satisfies the soul when the weather turns chilly.
Hearty Russian Beet Borscht
- 1 pound of stew beef
- Flour for dredging
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 6 cups beef stock
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
- 4 large beets, peeled and grated
- 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Dredge the beef in the flour, and then brown it in the butter.
- Add the stock and tomatoes, and bring the pot to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let the ingredients simmer until the meat is nearly tender.
- Add the beets, red cabbage, potatoes, celery, carrots and onion.
- Cover the pot and continue simmering until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the red wine vinegar, garlic, lemon, and seasonings, and continue simmering for another 20 minutes or so to give the flavors a chance to blend nicely before serving.
This hot and hearty soup is usually garnished with a dollop of sour cream and sprig of dill or a little parsley. Some nice brown bread on the side completes the meal, but you might also want to consider serving your borscht in bread bowls as a fun and tasty alternative.
Although this recipe includes meat, it's easy to convert to a vegetarian soup. Just leave out the meat, and substitute vegetable stock or water for the beef stock.
Add Roasted Beets to Soup
Most borscht recipes tend to call for raw beets that need to be peeled and then diced or grated before being cooked in the soup. If you really want to draw out superior flavor from your beets, try roasting them before you add them to the soup. Once you put them in the oven, you can start the rest of the soup recipe, and your beets will be ready by the time they need to go into the pot.
All you need to do is:
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Brush the beets with a little vegetable oil and wrap them in foil.
- Place them in the oven, and let them roast until they are tender.
- Take them out of the oven, and let them cool for about 15 minutes.
- Peel them, and slice or dice them as you prefer.
When using roasted beets, you'll add them during step 7 instead of step 5 in the recipe above.
A Soup Well Worth Trying
If you've never had borscht before, give it a try. It takes about the same amount of preparation as homemade vegetable beef soup, but the beets and cabbage give it a delightfully different spin. Borscht might become one of your favorite winter soups.