I have never been a picky eater. Growing up, I would eat anything; raw oysters, rare steaks, brussels sprouts, lima beans, no problem. Thinking back, there is only one food that I can remember refusing to eat, and that was borscht. There was just something about it that I just couldn't get in to.
As I've gotten older, my eating has only gotten more adventurous and now borscht is one of my favorites. It's versatile, hearty, healthy, and wonderful eaten hot or cold. Lari Robling's version of borscht from Endangered Recipes uses sauerkraut in place of the traditional fresh cabbage. Her borscht is meatless, and makes for a substantial vegetarian entree. You can beef it up with the addition of beef shin or short ribs—just cook it for an extra hour or two.
- Yield:3 quarts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 parsnip, peeled and coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2 medium potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 pounds beets, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2 quarts)
- 1 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and drained (about 3 cups), plus more for serving
- 2 quarts water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- For garnish: sour cream, lemon slices, fresh dill sprigs
In a stock pot, heat olive oil; add in onion and saute until translucent. Add carrot and saute for about 1 minute. Add parsnip and potatoes and saute another minute. Add tomato paste and sugar and stir well.
Add beets, 1 pound sauerkraut, water, salt, and pepper. Blend well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the dill and taste the soup. Adjust seasonings if necessary, adding a little more salt or pepper.
To serve, place a tablespoon or two of the sauerkraut in the bottom of the bowl, add the soup, and garnish with sour cream, lemon slice, and fresh dill sprig.