Recently, another Sister and I shared our borscht recipes and memories! Like any well-loved food, memories play a part in its enjoyment. Our experiences of eating borscht are different but surprisingly parallel. Sr. Monica spent two months living at a Convent in Estonia when it was still part of the USSR. She has vivid memories of being there as the coup occurred when Gorbachev was still in power. I remember it too, because I was in Poland at the time, singing with our choir, Gloriae Dei Cantores. We had no way to communicate with our Sisters in Estonia since cell phones and e-mail were unavailable to us in 1991. We relied on prayer for their safety. Often, a particular recipe is a vehicle for comfort, even solace. We have had difficult times in the past, but we know God’s love is available to us. We offer this heartwarming recipe to you, along with our prayers for a healthy spring.
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
- 2 pounds beef chuck roast or stew meat (if using bone-in meat, increase poundage to 3#)
- 8 cups water
- 2-3 cups beef broth
- 1 tbsp salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large beet(s) washed
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 large potato(es) peeled and diced into bite sized pieces
- 3 carrots grated
- 1/2 small head cabbage sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh dill plus more for garnish
- Put the meat in a crockpot with 8 cups cold water, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and 1 Tbsp salt. Set on high for 4 hours. Cook until fork tender. Remove meat and strain and reserve the broth. Set aside
- While the Beef is cooking, wrap beets in foil and place in a 400 degree oven—roast for 1hr. until fork tender. Cool slightly, but while they are still warm, remove the top, bottom and skin with a pairing knife (skins should come off easily if properly cooked) and either grate or julienne the beets. Set aside.
- Heat a large stockpot and add 4 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté onion for 2 min. Add diced potato and sauté another 5 min or until beginning to soften. Add the grated carrot, cabbage and garlic and 2 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to med/low and add the beets, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved strained broth and extra 2-3 cups beef broth. (I used' Better than Bouillon' Roasted Beef Base)
- Simmer and cover until vegetables are tender. Add the diced, cooked Beef and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill. Remove from heat and leave covered until flavors meld. Add 1/4 tsp pepper (If desired), and salt to taste. Adjust flavors to taste (you may want to add a bit more vinegar or sugar)
- Serve warm or cold with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.