We adapted the recipe for this traditional soup from Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman (Workman Publishing, 1990). Borshch (or borscht) belongs to a family of sour soups that includes shchi, a Russian cabbage soup.
- 12 cups <a href="https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Rich-Beef-Stock">beef/ stock</a> made with beef chuck and smoked ham hock
- 4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 2 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 1⁄4 head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 8 medium <a href="https://www.saveur.com/article/Food/Roasted-Beets">Roasted/ Beets</a>, peeled and diced
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 pitted prunes, chopped
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
Strain stock into a large pot, setting meats aside. Bring stock to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and tomatoes, season to taste with salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are just soft, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and peppers and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cabbage wilts, 6-8 minutes. Add vegetable mixture, beets, and lemon juice to stock in pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add prunes, tomato paste, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until prunes soften and begin to dissolve, about 10 minutes more.
Shred reserved beef chuck into large pieces and add to soup. Pick meat off reserved ham hock, discarding fat, skin and bones, and add to soup. Simmer 15 minutes more. Remove pot from heat, add garlic, parsley, and dill, then set soup aside to rest for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve with sour cream on side.