Birthday Borscht

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Beautiful beets. I have a thing for fruits of the earth that have the ability to produce such incredible colors. Same with red dragonfruit — there’s simply no messing with nature that intense!

Ever since we hopped off the plane from Asia and stepped into a Midwest blizzard, I’ve been cold. My feet are cold, my hands are cold, and my stomach craves warmth (which is different from heat). So I kept thinking of borscht, and when my mom’s birthday rolled around last weekend, I knew that’s what I would make. Everyone around here likes beets. But curiously, I’d never made borscht before. So I did a little research. I remembered the flavors that went into a delightful dish Jerry had concocted several years ago, and I came up with an amalgam of a recipe that definitely requires a bib. Now, I understand my mother talked to at least one person who wrinkled her nose at the mere thought of borscht. But she hasn’t tried this borscht. This borscht deserves a chance. Here’s what it takes:

1 1/2 pounds beef marrow bones
2 small sliced yellow onions
2 sliced carrots
3 quarts water
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 bunch of fresh dill
1 bunch of fresh parsley
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
4 smashed garlic cloves (you can add more, but I was cooking for my father, too!)
1 teaspoon caraway
8 small to medium beets
4 interesting potatoes, diced
3 sliced tomatoes
3 small yellow onions, sliced thinly
3 large shallots, sliced thinly
glug of cider vinegar
glob of butter
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
4 cups chopped cabbage
4 teaspoons tomato paste
Sour cream, bacon, parsley and dill to serve

Place celery, half the dill, half the parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns in cloth cooking bag. Tie and toss into stock pot with bones, water and salt. Bring to boil, skim foam as necessary and simmer for at least an hour with remaining stock ingredients (large onion, carrots, garlic).

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Meanwhile, pre-heat oven (yeah! I like having access to an oven again!) to 375 degrees. Wash, dry and peel beets. Wrap in foil and bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove, cool, dice. Sprinkle with part of the lemon juice.

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Remove meat bones from stock. Add tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, tomato paste, butter, and continue to simmer on low. Meanwhile, fry as much bacon as you like. Cool and crumble for topping. Drain off most of the oil, then fry onions, shallots and caraway in the same pan with cider vinegar. When nicely browned, add to the soup. Add remaining lemon juice to taste, and continue to cook the soup until hearty. Just before removing from heat, add fresh parsley and dill.

Serve with sour cream, bacon crumbles and more fresh parsley and dill. And don’t forget the bib if you’re messy like me!

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7 thoughts on “Birthday Borscht

  1. Aaah, borscht! I almost made some last night, but my boyfriend wanted chicken instead. Weekend, perhaps!
    Pille (a huge fan of beets, and borscht:)

  2. I haven’t thought of borscht since I ate it with a group of Russian immigrants in Seatac Wa. in 1996… I remember it as being very good.. even with a dollop of sour cream.. and I detest sour cream. Are you warm yet, K?

  3. No. I sniffed spring in the air on Tuesday, but a cold wind from the north blew in yesterday afternoon. Rain turned to snow. Skies cleared, but the temps dropped. Guess it’s time to do as the Russians do and haul out the vodka.

  4. Wow, I’m so impressed that you made borscht. Coming from a Polish background I didn’t realize that most people knew about this soup (except for those who maybe have relatives or have been to Eastern Europe) and would want to make it at home. In our house its always part of Holiday celebrations, typically Christmas.

    As always beautiful pictures 🙂

  5. I want to lick my screen. I love beets but hadn’t really thought of eating them any other way than steamed or baked. Must bookmark this recipe and start looking around my farmers’ market.

    Re: your comment on eatingasia about that editor stealing your idea and content. I hope you reported him to his editor or something. That’s so wrong.

  6. Thanks! Hope you like this one. Forgot to mention: crumbled bacon is absolutely key. It’s just not the same without it.

    We happen to be in upper Michigan right now, going through Jerry’s grandparents’ house. I came across a Russian cookbook with about a dozen borscht recipes. I’d be curious to compare.

    Re: the editor incident, the magazine sent me a copy of the story before it ran (after I voiced my complaints). I had a phone conversation with the editor in chief about the incident. The author of the story happened to be on vacation at the time, and the magazine was going to print, so there wasn’t much they could do. I pointed out an error in the article, but it still came out in print that way. I never heard from the other editor again.

  7. Hi Karen,

    I just made borscht and it was lovely! http://wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.com/2007/03/beet-beet-borscht.html

    I’m so dismayed by what happened to you. Although, I shouldn’t be surprised. The internet and other electronic stuff makes stealing ideas even easier. When I was in j school, our prof was one of the local paper’s editors. One of the students wrote a feature that he liked but it wasn’t well-written enough to make it in the paper. So he paid the student for the idea, and had one of his reporters cover it. I’d figure that editor should at least acknowledge, in payment, that you had done all the legwork. And that editor-in-chief should have acknowledge that as well.

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