A Battle-Tested Classic
This was all I ever wanted to eat growing up, and I still crave it more than I care to admit. This Eastern European cabbage soup is really more of a schi than a borscht, but why quibble over names? In America in the ’60s, unless you were Russian, this was borscht. Funny how that works. It’s a meal in a bowl to be sure, but small portions are a great starter. I have been making this for decades; it’s a battle-tested classic.
Beef, Beet & Cabbage Borscht
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 pounds English-cut beef short ribs
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 8 cups beef stock, chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 tablespoon juniper berries
- 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 2 dill sprigs
- 2 oregano sprigs
- 2 parsley sprigs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 beets (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and diced
- 1 small rutabaga (1/2 pound), peeled and diced
- 1 leek, diced
- 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 pound carrots, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1/2 head savoy cabbage (1 pound), cored and shredded
- Half of a 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes and their juices
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Sour cream, chopped dill and grated horseradish, for serving
Prepare the Short Ribs
In a heavy medium pot, heat the oil. Add the short ribs and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer the short ribs to a baking sheet and let cool. Strain the broth through a fine sieve. Discard the beef bones and dice the meat.
Meanwhile, Prepare the Borscht
Wrap the juniper berries, peppercorns, coriander seeds, dill, oregano and parsley sprigs in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie tightly into a bundle. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the beets, rutabaga, leek, onion, carrots, celery, cabbage and the herb-spice bundle. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and the cabbage is wilted, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the strained beef broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the vinegar and the chopped meat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the borscht with sour cream, chopped dill and horseradish.