My borscht recipe is adapted from one of the Moosewood cookbooks that I learned to cook from in college. I did a lot of cooking during that time…..enough to occasionally wonder if I should have been at culinary school rather than at Sarah Lawrence College. At Sarah Lawrence I had an amazing academic don named Ilja Wachs, who advised me on everything from my course of study, to my relationship with my biological father, to how to make a delicious borscht. Just a few years ago (a full ten years after graduating from college) Ilja met me for tea and advised me on health insurance and my relationship with the wonderful man who I am now going to marry. Yeah. There is no way I would have gotten that from culinary school.
Anyway, the reason I bring up Ilja Wachs is that he really did advise me on how to make a good borscht. I was very proud of a borscht that I had made and I brought some to him. He told me that the borscht was excellent but that it could not be a truly great borscht unless I used a homemade meat stock. At eighteen I was a pretty dedicated vegetarian, so we agreed to disagree. However, I am no longer a vegetarian and every time I make my borscht with homemade meat stock I think of Ilja. Thinking of Ilja makes me feel lucky to have been taken care of and challenged by such a fabulous human being. Thinking of Ilja makes me remember how lucky I am to have gone to a great school like Sarah Lawrence. In short my Borscht makes me very happy and thankful. I hope that this borscht will make you feel lucky and cared for and thankful too!
- 1 and 1/2 cup thinly sliced potato
- 1 cup thinly sliced beets
- 4 cups home-made meat stock
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 and 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt (maybe more to taste)
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 3 to 4 cups cabbage sliced
- black pepper
- 1 tsp fresh dill
- 1 or 2 Tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 1 or 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup tomato puree
- sour cream and hard-boiled egg for garnish (optional)
- Combine the potatoes, beets and stock in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat.
- Meanwhile in another large pot, saute the onions in the butter along with the salt and caraway seed for about 8 minutes.
- Add the celery, carrots, cabbage to the onions. Scoop out 2 cups of the stock from the other pot and add it to the onion, celery, carrots and cabbage. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.
- Combine everything into one pot. Add the black pepper, dill , vinegar, sugar and tomato puree and cook, covered for at least 15 minutes more.
- Garnish with sour cream and hard-boiled egg if you like.