Readers of this blog know that I am an Orthodox Christian, and I've lived in various parts of the United States over the last 40 or so years. I've been exposed to people from all over the world, and my husband I had best friends for many years who were Russian Americans. We also were members of a parish that had many Russian Americans, and people from all over eastern Europe. That is how I became obsessed with borscht. I have always loved beets, and beet soup Russian style is absolutely divine.
Now, borscht is made all over eastern Europe, with various incarnations. It can be meatless, or full of meat, hot or cold, with or without cabbage, but the one constant is it's characteristic deep red color from the beets. Here is my favorite recipe for a meaty borscht.
3 quarts meat broth, meat reserved and cubed
6 - 8 medium beets, scrubbed well
2 large carrots, sliced
1 really large potato, cubed into 3/4"
1 lb canned chopped tomatoes
1 lb cabbage, sliced thin
1 Tbs sugar
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp dill
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Cook the beets how you like, peel the skin off, and slice into eighths, so they fit on the spoon. Put beets, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, salt, pepper and 1 tsp dill in the broth, and boil till tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Add meat, sugar and cabbage, and simmer till cabbage is tender. Remove from heat, taste for sugar, salt, pepper and dill. Stir in vinegar before serving. Top with sour cream and more dill.
I usually make my own broth in the pressure cooker from meat scraps and bones. If you buy meat broth, you will need to also buy some stew meat, and will have to simmer the meat in the brother for about an hour before making the soup, to ensure that it is tender - or, you can pressure cook the meat with a natural pressure release.
I have made this with broth made from lamb bones and meat, and if you like lamb, as I do, you will be in for a taste treat! I think the lamb version is my most favorite, even more than the beef version! I've never made this with broth from pork bones, but I don't see why it would not be tasty as well.
I usually pressure cook the whole beets, or sometimes halved beets if they are really large, but you can boil them, or roast them, too. Be sure to save the beet greens because they may be the best part of the beet, and so very healthy!
I don't usually have sour cream hanging around the house, but I always have a big tub of plain yogurt, so feel free to drop a dollop of that on top of your soup. It is really yummy!
If you don't have red wine vinegar, use apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar, but don't use balsamic. That particular culture clash is not yummy. Ask me how I know this.