For Oma and Her Borscht – Beet and Beef Borscht
This post is for my Oma, who will probably never read it, as I’m quite certain that she’s not online.
My Oma is a wonderful cook. She’s one of the best, in my opinion. When we were little and we’d go to visit, she would have Chicken Noodle Soup for those of us who hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of Borscht. I didn’t know what I was missing! Her Borscht is amazing! She has two different kinds: Beef Borscht (I don’t know if that’s the real title, it might also be called Winter Borscht) and Sommer Borscht (pronounced like Zumma). I had the Sommer Borscht recently for the first time and it’s oh so good. She also makes Zwieback (the buns being made by me in the above photo), which I have memories of making with her as a small girl. I’ve made them since, as a grownup, and while they’re not quite the same, they’re pretty good (I have her Zwieback recipe, in her handwriting, so they’re as close as they can get!).
Oma’s Borscht is made differently than mine, but they’re the same idea. A meat and potatoes soup that has a dollop of sour cream on top. I make mine with beets (which I’m told she doesn’t) and she makes hers with dill (which I don’t). There may be other variances too, but those are the main ones.
I think Borscht came from a time where people used what they had out of necessity. I used what I had (beets) because I wanted to (and because it’s the only way we like beets in our house). This is how I normally cook, and why most of my recipes are uniquely my own. Some are inspired by a magazine, a blog, a cookbook. Others are concocted by standing in front of the pantry cupboards, or the fridge with the door open (I used to get in trouble for this as a kid) summoning my creative culinary skills to create something delicious. Either way, I’m often inspired to use things that we already have, often that have come in our Abundant Harvest Organics produce box, in a fresh, creative way.
I’ve made Borscht many times before, but until recently, had never written it down. So, here’s my most recent version, probably slightly different from any other, but good none-the-less.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 - 1 lb. (stewing) beef*
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 lg. or 8 sm. radishes, chopped (opt.)
- 3 med. - lg. potatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 8 sm. beets, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 T (or more) red wine vinegar
- 1 C crushed tomatoes
- 2 - 4 C water
- 4 C beef (or chicken, or vegetable) stock*
- to taste salt
- to taste pepper
- 1 C cabbage, chopped
- Greek yogurt (for topping)
- Heat soup pot. Add olive oil, then beef. Cook beef 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add carrots through beets, cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute. Add the vinegar, to deglaze the pan, cook about 1 minute more.
- Add tomatoes, water, stock. salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 1-2 hours, adding the cabbage in the last 30 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Serve topped with yogurt.
*To make it vegetarian, omit beef, and use vegetable stock.