We made a joke in the farm office last week that if you’re a CSA member you’ll have to eat Borscht at least once during the CSA season! The thing is, get rid of any pre-conceived notions you might have about Borscht, this soup is delicious and a great way to clean out your fridge before you get your next CSA share!
There are hundreds of ways to make borscht, but I’m partial to a vegetable heavy version with lots of garlic, dill, and fresh tomatoes. The combination is really satisfying. That said, don’t feel tied to this combination of vegetables either! You can add parsnips, potatoes, anything really. I also love our vegetarian version, and kids love beets! And what’s not to love, they’re bright and sweet!
This hearty batch of soup is made with big chunks of stew meat from our friends at Autumn’s Harvest Farm. When I was browning the meat it occurred to me that treating this soup like a beef stew would probably yield the best results. I turned on the oven and transferred just the roots, meat, tomatoes, aromatics, and part of the liquid in. The slow bake gave the meat time to get really tender, and you could even just stop there and make it a stew. Finish the whole thing on the stove with more liquid, cabbage, and lots of dill. (definitely don’t bake the cabbage, a long cooking time produces cabbage that is overcooked and smelly)
Beef Borscht (serves 8 -10)
1lb beets, peeled and diced
1 lb beef stew meat
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 fennel bulb, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
14 oz can diced tomatoes in juices
4 – 6 cups beef stock
1-2 bay leaves
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 2 tablespoons dried)
salt and pepper
Optional – sour cream or yogurt and dill to garnish
Brown the meat. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat in an oven-proof dutch oven. Add the stew meat, and brown on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot, reduce heat to medium, and add the onion, fennel, and garlic to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions and fennel are softened. Add the beets and carrots with a pinch of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the tomatoes, and stir, scraping up any bits from the bottom. Return the beef to the pot, and pour in 2 cups of the stock. Add the bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and bake for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.
Finish the soup. Remove the soup from the oven and place on the stove over medium heat. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the cabbage and 2 more cups of stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes more, the cabbage should be soft and tender. Add more stock if necessary. Stir in the dill and vinegar, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary.
Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.