This is a family secret, this recipe, and I have secretly adjusted it so it would become even more of a secret recipe, my own secret recipe, so I trust you won't share it with anyone. IT'S FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. I know I can rely on you. I do. You have asked me too many times to share it, and then last week Bob Hathaway tweeted that he completed 50K words in 19 days for NaNoWriMo and I said, "Holy shit! What shall I send you? 50K pots of borscht?" and he asked for a copy of TUBE and for the recipe for my famous borscht so here you go. You all have to thank Bob for this. It's all his fault.
BORSCHT A LA KSENIA ANSKE
PREP TIME: 2 hours (less if you wrangle your children to chop-chop-chop the veggies)
SERVES: big family (at least 8 people, and in the fridge it will last you for a week)
DIFFICULTY: super easy, just lots of peeling and frying and stirring and shredding
- 6 pounds of beef cut in 1 inch cubes (we get the large Costco package)
- Olive oil, for all the frying
- 3 large onions, 2 diced and 1 peeled
- 1 garlic head, cloves peeled and mashed
- 2 large carrots, peeled, and 2 big carrots, grated
- 5 celery stalks, trimmed
- 1/2 medium head of cabbage, shredded into thin strips
- 3 medium beets, grated (if possible, beet greens too, diced)
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 large potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh dill, minced
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, minced
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, minced
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons of vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- sour cream, for serving
- black rye bread, for serving
- 10 liters of water in a 14 liter pot
TIP: you can half the ingredients if you want to make a smaller batch and you don't have to use all the herbs I'm listing. Just a bit of dill is good for garnishing, but I like lots of them so this is why you see it. And I like my borscht thick, almost like a stew. You can further reduce the ingredients to make it a bit thinner.
First we have to do the broth. This part will take about 10 minutes to put together and then about 1 hour of watching it so it won't boil too hard. Get your big pot full of water and put in it the bay leaves and the beef (washed and patted dry) and 1 whole peeled onion, 2 whole peeled carrots, 5 celery stalks, cover and bring to a boil. Skim off the grey foam and discard. Then add salt and black pepper to taste and let it simmer for 1 hour. At the end the beef should be very soft. Take out the beef, discard the veggies, strain the stock and put the beef back in.
Now, to the soup part.
Set the pot with the broth on the stove without turning on the heat. Add the potatoes and the cabbage. In a frying pan sautée diced onions until golden and dump them in the pot. Do the same with grated carrots. Put the grated beets in the frying pan BUT DO NOT ADD OIL. Instead, add enough of the broth so it just covers the beets, add vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil AND at the same time start the burner under the big pot so the broth starts coming to a boil as well. It's very important that once the beets boil in the pan you turn the heat down and simmer them for about 5 minutes or until just soft, so can be 7-8 minutes if the beets are tough and old. When done, dump it into the pot. Stir it all, add more salt and pepper to taste if you want, and when it comes to a boil, let it simmer for about 20 minutes. You can check the potatoes and the veggies for being done. Don't let them get mushy, so adjust the time accordingly. In the last 5 minutes of simmering, add the tomatoes and the beet greens and the herbs and the mashed garlic. Then stir it all and let it sit for about 30 minutes or for as long as it takes to get it to the edible temperature.
You did it! Congratulations! Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream on top, a sprig of dill, and a hearty hunk of black rye bread. For an added touch, drink a small shot of vodka before you start eating. Enjoy and send me your gifts of appreciation. Socks are always good. Precious gems. Pictures of you eating borscht. Cash. Anything you've got, I'll take it.
PRO TIP: If you want a better taste, don't eat it right away but let it sit in the fridge overnight. It always tastes better the day after. Also, you can eat it cold without sour cream while chugging chilled kvas from a jug.