Best Borsch

—contributed by April Alfuth

This is a recipe that I got from Tatyana Barrett who emigrated from Russia with her family when she was a young child. It is absolutely the best tasting borsch to cross my palate. I cook a lot, but had only made borsch probably three times in my adult life. Now I make it about once a month in the winter season. It calls for meat and I usually use pork ribs, but I have made it with Kielbasa Tofurky for my vegan relatives. It is just as tasty. I believe it is because you saute most of the vegetables before you add them to the pot.

Borsch

For stock*, place in a large pot:
1–2 lbs of meat (any meat, preferably with a bone)
2 tablespoons salt
1–2 whole onions
3–4 bay leaves

Bring to a boil and simmer. Boil for at least one hour (less for chicken, more for red meat). When meat is tender, add 4 to 5 diced potatoes. I do not peel the potatoes.

While potatoes are cooking on a low simmer, chop ( I do julienne style) the following:
2 carrots (if organic, I do not peel)
2 bell peppers (any color)
2–3 celery sticks
2-3 fresh beets
1 onion
3-4 garlic cloves

Saute cut vegetables in 3–4 tablespoons olive oil in large saute pan over medium high heat until they begin to caramelize and become tender, from 10 to 20 minutes (depends on the size and number of veggies you cut). Add:

Tomatoes—fresh or canned, large or small, your choice
1 small can tomato paste
dill, fresh or dry
Mix well and set aside.

Remove bay leaves and whole onion(s) from stock pot. I usually place the onion in a bowl, smash it and return to pot. I also remove the meat (if used), debone it, cut or pull into bite size pieces, and return to pot. Add to stock:

Sauteed vegetables
1⁄2 head chopped cabbage
1 small can drained sauerkraut

Simmer 10–15 minutes, then let stand 10–15 minutes before serving. Serve with dollop of sour cream or yogurt and/or sliced jalapenos. (I usually add chili sauce to the pot when I put in the cabbage and sauerkraut).

This makes a large pot. Good for sharing and having ready when you have a busy week. I just put the pot in the fridge, or a cold, safe place in the garage in winter.

*If using Tofurky, brown with diced onions and add vegetable stock or hot water with vegetable bouillon.