A delicious beet and beef borscht recipe — a staple in Russian cuisine that’s hot, hearty, and an overall cozy comfort food.
There are a tremendous variety of borschts from all over eastern and central Europe. The hot (as in fire, not spicy) varieties with beet as one of the main ingredients come primarily from the Ukraine and Russia. Follow this simple recipe for a tangy, enjoyable soup:
Ingredients (serves 8)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of beef cut into approximately one-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (cut into about half-inch pieces)
2 celery stalks (cut into about half-inch pieces)
1 red pepper (can use green pepper) cut into about half-inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of water
4 medium-sized beets, peeled (cut into about half-inch pieces)
2 baked potatoes (scrub but do not peel) cut into half-inch pieces
2 10.5-ounce cans of beef broth, double strength
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 teaspoons of thyme
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (optional)
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar (optional)
Sour cream (for dollops in the soup)
Salt and pepper
The red wine vinegar and brown sugar are optional. Russians generally do not like sweet or tangy borscht so if you wish to have a more traditional borscht leave these ingredients out. However, I enjoy the zesty sweet flavour.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the cut meat and brown in the oil stirring periodically (about 20 minutes).
Beef browning in Dutch oven.
Remove the beef once it has browned with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper until they are soft (about 15 minutes) – stirring as needed.
Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the water and scrape the browned bits of meat off the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the beets, potatoes, beef broth, the entire can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, caraway seeds, and the cooked beef (also add the red wine vinegar and brown sugar at this point if you decide to use these ingredients).
Cover and cook on medium for one hour, stirring periodically.
Ladle the borscht into bowls and add a dollop of sour cream (yogurt can also be used). Some Russians will stir the sour cream or yogurt into the borscht in the bowl but others will simply scoop some up with each spoonful of borscht.
Photo credit: Liz West