As soon as the weather cools down in the fall, I usually start the seasonal occupation of cooking hearty and warming foods. But this season, despite having a newly renovated kitchen to work in, I’ve felt uninspired. Perhaps it was just being busy with work, then the holidays, or maybe just that it hasn’t felt very winter-like. That changed this week. With a fresh layer of snow, my thoughts returned to the kitchen.
There’s barely anything as warming as soup on a cold, snowy day. I wanted something hearty but filled with veggies. So, I turned to the family cookbook and found exactly what I was looking for: Babushka Maria’s Ukrainian Borscht. It takes some prep time, but it makes enough for a couple nights’ meals. This soup is beautiful and as warming as wrapping yourself in a blanket by the fire.
To me, the kitchen is the heart of a home, so I figured I’d share the recipe. I’d love to hear what you’re cooking this season!
Soak in separate bowls of water:
½ large head cabbage, shredded
2 pounds waxy potatoes, diced
2 to 3 cups beets cut into large matchsticks
2 Tablespoons oil or pork fat
2 cups shredded carrots
2 large onions diced small
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 cans cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 can tomato paste
2 or 3 pounds bone-in beef shank, center cut, trimmed of most fat
generous amount of fresh dill
Fill large soup pot ⅔ with water; boil meat whole until tender, about 30 minutes, skimming fat as necessary.
In a separate sauté pan, heat oil or pork fat and heat onions about 10 minutes until translucent and soft, then add carrots and sauté another 10 minutes until soft. Add tomato paste and some beef liquid to make tomato roux.
Add bay leaf to beef water in this order and then add beets and red pepper. After 7 to 9 minutes, add potatoes. Seven to 10 minutes later, add onions and carrots. For the last 10 minutes, add cabbage and beans. Add salt to taste, and add dill at the very end.
Turn off and let juices settle, about 30 minutes.
Serve in warm bowls with a dollop of sour cream.