In my mind this is Russian Soul Food. The recipe came from my cousin, Anne. The first time I ate this soup, I was immediately taken back to my childhood. My Mom used to make hers just like this but then changed things up to suit my meat eating Dad! More a veggie soup than the usual beet soup, with beets added for colour. I like to make this when the new crop beets, potatoes and cabbages are available. A tip: you can shred the cabbage and chop up the veggies the day before, place in the fridge until you are ready to making the borscht the next day. My husband doesn’t like beets, so I am not allowed to put beets in the soup! I solved the problem by roasting a beet for myself, grating it then adding to my bowl. Don’t forget the sour cream!
1 small cabbage, finely shredded
2 small beets, well scrubbed, not peeled
1 28 oz. tin Italian plum tomatoes
4 potatoes, approximately 2 lbs., peeled & cubed
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 qts. (8) cups water
¼ cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 grated zucchini, grated
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
1 bay leaf, 1 Tbsp. parsley, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill**
1 tsp. salt & pepper
(opt.) Sour cream or yogurt
Make the Borscht:
Place water into a large pot; add the cubed potatoes, beets, bay leaf, 1 tsp. salt & garlic. Bring to a boil, place lid on the pot and cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the tomatoes & chop coarsely; then add to the pot containing the potatoes & their cooking water.
Melt the butter in a very large saucepan. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper, zucchini & carrots. Sauté until soft. Add half the cabbage, turn & combine with veggies, then add the remaining cabbage and combine. Add the tomatoes and combine well. Cover, bring to a boil, turn heat to simmer and “sweat” veggies until tender.
Remove the potatoes from the tomato/potato cooking water, using a slotted spoon & place in a large, shallow dish; mash with 2 Tbsp of butter. Add veggie mixture to the potatoes & some of the cooking water to loosen mixture. Add this mixture to the pot with the beets. Bring up to a boil but do not boil. Add boiling water to thin the soup as necessary. Sprinkle with lots of freshly ground pepper, parsley, and dill. Do not stir these ingredients in. Place lid on the soup. Turn off the heat under the soup, but leave on burner. Let the soup rest for 1 hour without lifting the lid. Note this is VERY IMPORTANT and is part of the “religion” of Borscht making. Before serving, remove the beets & discard. It’s very important that you do not boil the borscht, just reheat gently until hot enough to serve.
Ladle the borscht into individual bowls &top with a nice dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
I hope you will make this soup & enjoy it as much as I do!
If you would like to see how I buy and store fresh dill to use throughout the year, click Using Fresh Herbs.