Berkshire Borscht: Amy Cotler’s Locavore Version
You won’t believe the depth and character of this meat borscht, a hearty meal-in-one soup from my book, The Locavore Way. It’s a winter favorite in my house that continues to get better over the course of several days and freezes well, so double or even triple the recipe. The recipe calls for chuck roast, which works well, but you can pretty much use any meat, adding bones for flavor and then removing them at the end of the cooking time. The yogurt or sour cream topping and all the vegetables but the tomatoes are available now, and if you have tomatoes you put up last summer they would be a wonderful addition.
Makes about 2½ quarts.
3/4 pound beets
1-1/4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (or any stewing meat), cut into bite-sized cubes*
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 quart water or beef stock, or some of each
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3-1/2 cups shredded cabbage, any kind
2 carrots, diced or shredded
2 celery ribs, diced or shredded
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic,minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche
Chopped fresh dill
Preparation Tip: Use a food processor to shred the veggies, radically cutting down on preparation time.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil, and roast them until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 1-1-1/4 hours. Set the beets aside until they are cool enough to handle. Removing any remaining stems. Slip off and discard their skins, peeling any that stick. Dice the beets by hand or grate them in the food processor. Reserve.
2. Meanwhile, toss the meat in a bowl with a little flour until lightly coated. Remove the meat, leaving most of the flour
behind. In a large pot, brown the meat in one layer in the oil over medium-high heat, shaking the pan and turning the meat as it browns. (Do it in two batches if necessary.) Don’t worry if some sticks or if the meat doesn’t brown evenly.
3. Add the water and/or broth and tomatoes, and simmer gently until the meat is almost tender, about 1 hour or more. (Taste it!)
4. Add the vegetables, including the beets, and tomato paste. Simmer gently for another 30 minutes or until the meat is very tender. (If necessary, add extra water or stock to reach the texture of a thick soup.)
5. Season with the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings if you like.
*If you use meat with bones, double the weight.