My borscht is as quick as it is hearty.
It is a real sweet-and-sour match triumph.
I call my borscht quick for good reason:
Although I love the classic beef borscht and enjoy it occasionally, I have no intention (and neither do you, I’ll bet!) of spending half the day making the classic high-maintenance beef-based original on a regular basis. I just love the idea of a great vegetarian borscht, and all vegetarian soups, good with any meal and in all seasons.
But you might choose to make a whole meal out of this dish: In this case, scroll down for the beef variation
Experience the magic of cranberry sauce in this borscht!
It brightens up all the flavors, and marries perfectly with beets. Go only for natural brands cranberry sauce, with none of the dreaded high fructose corn syrup
Skip the dicing!
I know, I’m making it the lazy way, just so I – and you – can make it more often. All that dicing can act as a deterrent, I know it does for me sometimes. The food processor will make short work of grating, grinding, and slicing all your ingredients—30 minutes of cooking is all I need, as the flavors are so intense and all ingredients are shredded fine. Even so, if you want to end up with that perfectly pristine look, allow a few more minutes of prep work, and dice all your vegetables about 1/2 inch instead of shredding them. So it will be call the not-so-quick borscht, but so what, you will make a fancier and more elaborate dish out of it!
Main course Beef Borscht
My dear departed mother in law made beef borscht as a whole meal. If beef borscht is what you go for, make it a whole meal: Boil 4 pounds of good diced braising meat with 4 quarts of water in the soup pot, covered, on medium flame. Then proceed with the recipe as given, using the meat cooking liquid as “water”, and omitting salt until the end of cooking: It might not need any. Many good cuts of meat are inexpensive and lend themselves to braising and long cooking, as in soups and stews. Just remember to adjust the salt, or even eliminate it during the cooking, and wait until you taste the finished soup to adjust the seasoning. Some of my favorite meats to use in soup are flanken, beef cheeks (remember to rinse them throughly, even for soup!), kolichel (shank).
- 1∕3 cup olive oil
- 8 large cloves garlic
- 1 large bunch dill
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 ribs celery, peeled (got more time? Dice it)
- 1 large carrot, grated (got more time? Dice it)
- 1 small white cabbage, sliced very thin
- 2 large beets, grated fine (got more time? Dice it)
- 1 large can (3 cups) crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 12 cups (3 quarts) water
- 1 15-ounce can natural smooth
- cranberry sauce (health food stores)
- ¼ cup sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1∕3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Heat the oil in a wide-bottom pot. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic and dill. Add the onion and celery and mince, using the pulse button. Add the mixture to the hot oil and sauté until translucent. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce the flame to medium and cook covered about 30 minutes, or a little longer, until all vegetables are very tender. Adjust texture and seasonings. Makes a dozen ample servings.