As far as I'm concerned, borsch (there's no t in the Cryllic) is about two things: playing off all the wonderful flavors of beets and an excuse to consume unforgivable amounts of sour cream. I love the contrast of tender, creamy parsnips against the firmer beets, and a broth that's at once light but meaty.
But the real fun here is the spices—all left whole, I might add, to add some crunch and surprise. If biting into coriander seeds doesn't sound like your kind of fun, you can certainly grind all the spices or infuse them in a muslin bag. Just don't skip out on them. Dill and coriander seeds round out the broth with notes of citrus, caraway, and a faint but noticeable herbiness—all of which round out the beet's earthy flavor. Toasting cumin seeds and tossing them at the end isn't a traditional step, but it gives a fresh musty kick to balance out the ample dill lemony weed.
Note: If you have beef bones, add them to the pot while it is simmering in step 2. Remove along with fat after meat is tender.
- 1 pound beef chuck, excess fat removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 large parsnips, woody cores removed, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (about 1 cup)
- 4 ribs celery, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups shredded cabbage (half medium head)
- 3 large beets, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon charnushka
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (to taste)
- 1 cup dill weed, finely chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large, heavy Dutch oven over high heat for five minutes until just smoking. Add beef in one layer and salt aggressively. Cook without moving until well browned on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned on several sides, about 5 more minutes total.
Add 6 cups water and. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours, adding water as needed to cover. Skim scum and fat from surface with ladle.
Heat remaining oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, coriander, dill seed, and charnushka with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally and cook until vegetables have slightly softened, about 7 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to Dutch oven along with beets. Add just enough water to barely cover, if needed. Simmer until beets are almost tender, about 20 minutes. In small skillet, toast cumin seeds until fragrant. Add to pot along with cabbage and cook just until tender, about 10 minutes. Before serving, add vinegar, dill weed, and salt to taste. Serve with sour cream at table.