Comfort food with a Russian accent spells Borscht for me. This humble, yet hearty soup feels like a warm hug on a chilly night. It calls for filling a big pot with delicious vegetables including cabbage, beets, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. It can be made with meat, preferably a fatty cut of meat, like short ribs and shank or without meat, altogether.
The bright crimson hue comes from beets that lend a subtle sweetness to tame the tart bite of apple cider vinegar. Double the ingredients to feed a crowd or size them down to share with someone special on a quiet evening.
Like anything saucy, Borscht tastes better the day after it’s made, but you may not be able to wait that long. So make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers with crusty fresh bread, sour cream and good company.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Feeds: 6 hungry bears on a chilly evening
2 lbs bone-in short ribs
1 lb beef shank with bone & marrow
1 Tb salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 medium beets, peeled and cubed
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium white cabbage, sliced
24 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed or cubed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns, cracked
6 cups water
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
Russian or Dijon mustard
Season meat, if using, with salt & freshly cracked pepper.
Transfer to a big pot and sear on all sides til nicely caramelized, maybe 5 mins.
Peel and cut beets into batons.
Add to the pot.
Peel and shred carrot.
Add to the pot.
Slice cabbage and add to the pot.
Add tomatoes, vinegar, bay leaf, peppercorn and water.
Put the lid on, reduce heat and let the lot simmer gently for 1 hour.
Peel and cube potatoes. Immerse in cold water.
After 1 hour, drain potatoes and add them to the pot.
Put the lid on again and continue to cook another 30-45 mins, until potatoes are fork-tender.
Take the vodka out of the freezer.
Serve warm with sour cream, mustard, fresh bread and vodka.
Vá-she zda-rо́-vje! (To your health!)