Russians love soups and borscht, without a doubt, is the most popular.

Laden with vegetables and meat, topped with sour cream, borscht can be a whole meal all by itself. Also, borscht tastes even better the next day, after all the flavors are infused.

borshchCredit: vikipedia

 Good borscht is not easy to prepare but I promise it is worth your efforts.  It is one of the most delicious and nutritious meals in Russian cuisine I know, just look at the ingredients. 

You can use commercial broth as a time-saver for this recipe but I definitely prefer homemade broth. Traditionally beef broth is used but you can use chicken broth as well. Borscht also can be prepared with vegetable stock or just water as a vegetarian option.

Beef Broth

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh lean beef brisket

4 pounds beef marrow bones, cut

1 large onion, unpeeled

1 carrot cut in big pieces

2 bay leaves, 7 sprigs of parsley tied together

Fill a big heavy pot with 4-5 quarts of cold water. Put beef, bones and unpeeled onion in water and bring to boil over high heat. Skim all the foam as soon as it rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low; add carrot and herbs. Cover the pot leaving a small crack. Simmer for another hour until the meat is tender. Take out the meat, cut it into small dice, cover and set it aside for later use.

Simmer the stock for another 2 hours. Strain the broth through the sieve, separating bones and greens. If you are up for a culinary adventure take the marrow out of the bones, place it in on a piece of toast when it is still hot, sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy. It’s very popular dish in Russia, especially in a winter with a shot of cold vodka!

If you are watching your diet, skim off and discard some of the surface fat.

Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 onion, chopped

1 pound beets, cut into strips about 1/8 inch wide and 2 inches long

2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips about ¼ inch wide

3 celery ribs, cut into strips about 1/8 inch wide and 2 inches long

2 carrots, cut into strips about 1/8 inch wide and 2 inches long

½ pound of white cabbage, shredded

1 or 2 potatoes, cut in dice-size cubes

Bay leaf and 5-6 sprigs of parsley, tied together

1 teaspoon sugar

Dill or parsley sprigs for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Note: cutting everything uniformly gives borscht a beautiful appearance. If your knife’s skills are not ideal don’t worry, it still tastes delicious.

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the same  pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them stirring frequently until they are soft but not brown for 3-4 min. Add beets, cook for 3  min; add carrots, cook for 3 min; add celery, cook for 3 min; add bell pepper, cook for 2 min; add tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar, cook for 1-2 min. Add ½ cup of beef broth and cook for another 10 min, stirring frequently.

Pour the remaining broth into the pot and add the chopped cabbage. Bring to boil, then stir in the diced beef brisket and potatoes.  Submerge bay leaf and parsley, add salt and pepper and cook on medium –low for another 30 min partially covered.

When serving, sprinkle borscht with dill or parsley and top with a dollop of sour cream.