This is a blend of my grandmother, Donna Haluska Korzin’s recipe, and a recipe from the cookbook, Soup, A Way of Life, by Barbara Kafka, 1998. Mrs. Kafka’s family and my grandmother were both from villages outside of Minsk, Belorussia.
Borsht is a soup made from a mixture of vegetables, often whatever is in your frig. There is a lot of cabbage in this soup, but the beets predominate because the color is so intense and the water the beets are cooked in is added to the soup.
This recipe makes about 5 and a half quarts. Cut the recipe in half if you’d like. I never do because it freezes well.
The soup is a sweet sour style. My grandmother added sour salt or citric acid instead of the vinegar. Sometimes she would add sorrel or what she called “sour spinach” from her garden.
The natural sweetness of beets varies. Use less sugar to your taste.
- 3 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 4-6 inch chunks
- 4 medium to large beets, (about 2-3 lbs) all but 2 inch of stems removed, reserve detached stems and leaves
- 1-28 oz can chopped canned tomatoes
- 1 medium head cabbage, cored and cut into 1 ½ inch squares or strips (about 9 cups or less if you prefer less cabbage)
- 4 carrots, (about 1/2 pound) peeled and cut across into ½ inch rounds
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 8 medium to large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled only
- 3 bay leaves or more
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/8-1/4 cup sugar
- 1 handful fresh dill weed, coarsely chopped
- 6 or more whole allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons kosher coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Serve with sour cream
- Place meat in a large pot and cover with 10 cups cold water
- Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer very gently for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
- Wash the beets with a scrub brush and soak the leaves and stems in cold water
- While the meat is cooking, in a medium stockpot, place beets in enough cold water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until beets can be pierced with a knife. Don’t over cook.
- In a large bowl place a mesh strainer and a layer of cheesecloth or heavy duty paper toweling. Strain the beets into the colander and bowl. Reserve liquid
- Trim beets and remove the skin. Cut into large matchstick strips and set aside.
- To the beef broth add onions, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, garlic, allspice, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are almost tender.
- Add beet strips to the soup and simmer 10 minutes.
- Cut the beet stems and leaves in 2 inch lengths
- Add the beet stems and leaves to the soup and simmer 10 minutes.
- Stir in reserved beet liquid, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow flavors to blend at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Reheat soup. Float 1 tablespoon or more sour cream on top of each bowl of borsht if desired.