I must confess that one of my weaknesses in the kitchen lies in my inability to chop vegetables into small pieces. My Russian friend who provided this recipe emphasized the importance of beautifully diced vegetables in a good borsch. She wasn't very impressed by the size of the potatoes in my version, but she complimented the flavor, which, in my opinion, is more important than dainty spoonfuls. But perhaps that's what always makes her borsch better than mine.
Recipe by Olga Jarrell (slightly adapted)
Pictures by Kelly
Optional: 2 lbs meat (beef, pork or chicken) cut into small chunks
6 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into very small cubes
1/3 head green cabbage, shredded*
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium beets, peeled, sliced into strips, and cut in half
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
dill or parsely, to garnish
salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: combine the meat and broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low 1.5 hours.
- Meanwhile, place beets, tomatoes and vinegar or lemon juice in a small pan. Simmer, covered, on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally (you may need to add a few tablespoons of water if it starts to dry out).
- In a large pot (if you're going meatless, use a large pot; if you're including meat, use a large skillet), heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Cover and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If meatless, add 6 cups of broth to the pot (skip this step if using meat). Add the shredded cabbage and potatoes. Cook 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
- Add the cooked beets. Stir and cook another 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprig or sprinkle of dill or parsley.
*I used purple cabbage in this batch because my green cabbage was looking a little...wilty. Purple is fine, but tends to blend in. Think about the aesthetics!