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Russian Meat and Winter Vegetable Soup

Recipe 1: Borsht With Beets (From Tver)

Makes a big pot to feed a family, and is best the day after making it.
Cooking time: about 1 ½ hours

1.25 lbs pounds London broil (or any meat, really)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
½ onion, peeled
3 potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 beets
¾ small cabbage
2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
2 bay leaves

1. Cut the London broil (or any meat) in half. Put it in a large soup pot, filled a couple inches from the top with water, and bring to a simmer. Slice half the carrot into thin rounds, add them to the soup, and cut the other half into quarters lengthwise, and then across to make 1/4'” dice. Dice onion. Skim off and discard any foam that appears at the top of the soup. Add to the broth: one potato, peeled and quartered and two beets, peeled quartered.

2. In a small sauté pan on medium with 1 tablespoon olive oil, start sautéing diced carrots and onions. Peel remaining two beets and grate on a box grater. Add the sautéed carrots and onion to soup, along with the salt and bay leaves.

3. Start sautéing shredded beets in a small saute pan on medium until their color deepens slightly but they still have a mild crunch. Slice cabbage finely and add to soup. Peel and slice remaining two potatoes into flat rectangular slices and add to soup. Take quartered beets out of the soup once they’re cooked and discard. Take out the quartered potato, mash with a fork in a bowl, and return to the soup. Let soup simmer until cabbage is cooked. Add minced garlic and sautéed shredded beets last and turn off heat immediately after. Take meat out of soup, cut up into bite-sized pieces and return to pot. Let soup rest on stovetop for 1 hr. and then refrigerate until next day.

Serve warm with sour cream, chopped fresh parsley and dill, paprika, celery, “whatever you like,” and bread.

“When you have a hangover, this is the best medicine for it.” It’s typically served on New Year’s Day. -- Yulia Converse


Recipe 2: Borscht With No Beets (From Volgograd)

4 ½ quarts water
1 ½ medium carrots, cleaned
3 bay leaves
1 onion, cut in half
¾ pound pork (with bone and a lot of fat) cut into 6 large pieces
2/3 Tbsp Kosher salt
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
½ head cabbage, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp oil (she uses olive, but in Russia, they’d use sunflower)
½ yellow onion large dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼” rounds
2 small cloves of garlic, quartered lengthwise
2 medium tomatoes, large dice
2 tbsp tomato paste, mixed with 2 c water

Bring the first six ingredients to a boil and skim foam off top. Turn down and simmer for 1 hr and 45 min. Discard the carrots and onion halves with a slotted spoon. Add 1 quart of water to pot. Turn up heat to bring back to boil. In a separate large sauté pan, sauté onion, carrots, and garlic in oil until soft and caramelized, about twenty minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and water and simmer for another twenty. Meanwhile, add potatoes to boiling broth, and bring to a boil again, add cabbage, return to boil, and turn off heat. Mix the carrot and tomato sauté into the soup. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream, and raw-garlic-rubbed bread (scuff up the end of a garlic clove with a paring knife, and rub it all over crust).