Ukranian Borscht *Beet Soup

Have beets and no idea what to do with them? HA! Here is the answer. What can be more fun than a bright pink soup? Seriously, my co-workers look at me weird every time I take this soup with me to work for lunch. One co-worker even asked why I was drinking Kool-aid out of a bowl with a spoon. Beets can be super messy though so be careful. The stains left on clothes and hands do not come out easily, so cook with care. I avoid touching the beets at all cost. You can make the broth base on your own or buy bouillon cubes and create your base that way. Try both and see what works best. For me, it comes down to what I have available to me at the time I am making the soup. Sometimes the soup gets meat, sometimes it doesn’t.
Here is what you need

Make the broth

12 cups water

Beef soup bones with meat on the bone

2 bay leaves

4 peppercorns

2 carrots halved

1 onion halved

2 cloves garlic
Put together the soup

1 medium onion

1 medium tomato peeled and finely diced

2 carrots (comes to about 1 cup grated)

3 beets scrubbed and grated

2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 head cabbage shredded

1/2 lb beef bottom round roast or cube steak. This is optional if you have a husband like mine that won’t eat a meal without meat (Seasoned with salt and Sautéed)

In a large stock pot start your soup base. Place all the ingredients in the pot and let cook until the vegetables are soft. Once soft, remove everything from the pot, leaving just the broth. If you do not have soup bones and are using bouillon cubes, make sure you add peppercorns and bay leaves to the water when making your broth. These two items are what make the authentic flavor of the soup. Do not leave the peppercorns or bay leaves in the soup after you create the broth though. They shouldn’t be consumed in their solid form.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil before adding your onions and grated carrots. Sauté the two until they begin to brown and add a little broth from your stock pot before adding the tomatoes and paste. Stir well and cook down to combine for about one to two minutes. Add your beets, a little more broth and cook until soft. Once softened, add the beet mixture to the broth in the stockpot along with the cubed potatoes. While the potatoes cook, start cutting your cabbage. I like to cut the base of the cabbage off and then cut it in half before shredding. Placing the cut side down on the cutting board, at an angle slice chunks of cabbage off, rotating the cabbage as you cut. This teqnique creates flat chunks rather than coleslaw like shreds. How the cabbage is cut won’t change the taste of the soup, but adds to its authenticity. Before adding your cabbage to the soup, make sure your potatoes are fully cooked. The cabbage doesn’t take long to cook and will overcook if added to the soup too soon while waiting for the potatoes to soften. To save time and make sure your potatoes are cooked, you can cook them in a separate pan and add to the completed soup at the end. I prefer to use less pans and burners, but it really is up to you. Wait until the last to add your sautéed meat. Cooking the meat in the soup will cause it to be chewy and flavorless. No bueno!

Once the cabbage is added, let it cook until the cabbage is soft, but not transparent. The soup is traditionally served hot with sour cream and dill. I have also used Trader Joe’s greek yogurt and it doesn’t change the over all taste of the soup.