My good friend up at Truman State went to study abroad in Russia last semester and made me promise to make Russian foods for her. Now that it's finally winter-vegetable time, I was able to make this borscht from almost exclusively farmers market ingredients. I felt very eastern European making this dish, scrubbing and grating root vegetables in the kitchen, and then throwing them into a large pot that looked like a bubbling, purple witch's cauldron. Definitely made me miss my Ukranian and Slovokian roommates from France!! This was exactly how they cooked, so I'm dedicating this one to them : )
Note: let soup sit overnight for best flavor.
from Moderate Oven
1 pound beets, shredded
1 bay leaf
pinch of caraway seeds
3 cups vegetable broth
1 lb. cabbage, shredded (I used purple, but the original recipe calls for green)
1 lb. potatoes, chopped into 3/4" pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained (I used 2 medium fresh tomatoes, crushed slightly and drained)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. brown sugar + more, to taste
1 Tbs. salt + more, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped + more, for garnish
sour cream, to garnish
1. In a large stock pot, add half of the shredded beets, 4 cups of cold water, the bay leaf, and the caraway seeds. Bring to a gentle but steady boil and cook for 10 minutes to extract color and flavor from beets.
2. Add the vegetable broth, cabbage, and potatoes to the pot. Return to a boil and simmer for 10 more minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and sauté onions and celery until soft. Add carrots, the rest of the beets, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and garlic. Ladle a few spoonfuls of broth from the stock pot into the skillet, and let this mixture cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add skillet vegetables to the stock pot along with the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Thin soup at this point with more water, if desired. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more, or until potatoes are fork-soft.
5. Remove from heat, add the dill, and season to taste. Serve with lots of sour cream and extra fresh dill.