Borscht

I have always wanted to include a good borscht (Eastern European beet soup) in my culinary repertoire, but my attempts have left me dissatisfied. After consulting several people who have lived in Russia, I now have a version that I am happy with. Over the last several weeks I have found beautiful beets in my CSA from La Nay Ferme, along with fragrant bunches of dill. Such fresh ingredients make incredibly sweet and flavorful soups. This borscht would make a nice starter for Thanksgiving.

Borscht
Beef Broth
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/3 lbs. bone-in beef shank (2 large shanks)
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1-1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/4 c. roughly chopped carrots
1-1/4 c. roughly chopped celery
12 c. cold water
1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
12 whole peppercorns
2 tsp. kosher salt

Heat oil in a 6-quart stockpot on medium high heat. Season beef shanks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides. Sear shanks on both sides, then remove from oil. Add onions to the oil and sauté 3 minutes, then add garlic. Sauté 1 minute, then add carrots, celery, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Sauté 5 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add water, seared beef shanks, fresh herbs, and peppercorns. Add 2 tsp. kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer on medium low heat for 2 hours. Remove the beef shanks and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables then chill it overnight. Chill the beef shanks as well. The next day skim the fat from the top of the broth. You will have 8-9 cups of beef stock.

Vegetables (for finishing the borscht)
8-9 c. beef broth
8 medium beets, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
black pepper to taste
2 c. sliced beef shank from the beef broth
1-1/2 c. sliced Savoy cabbage
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (to taste)
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
4 green onions, sliced
sour cream to garnish

Heat the skimmed broth in a 5-quart stockpot. Shred beets and the carrot together using a food processor to yield 5 cups of shredded vegetables. Heat canola oil a sauté pan. When oil is hot add shredded beet and carrot mixture. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften. It will cook down a bit. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and some pepper to the beet mixture, then transfer to the simmering broth. Cut beef shank meat into small slices and add to broth, along with cabbage and potatoes. Add salt and pepper if needed. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add vinegar to taste and half of the chopped dill. Continue cooking for 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. When you are ready to serve add remaining fresh dill and the chopped green onion. Ladle into serving bowls and spoon a dollop of sour cream onto the soup. Serves 6.

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