I refer to this as Carpatho-Rusyn Prozac -- it is definitely a part of my DNA and something that I make as a total comfort food when needed. You can make a vegetarian version as well, but I like the richness that the beef
This made enough for 6 portions, dinner and some for the fridge for later or, in my case, for the next time my mother visits since she is the person from whom I got those Carpatho-Rusyn genes.
1 lb best beef stew meat
1 large onion, peeled, halved and cut into half moons
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 large beets, peeled and grated
1 lb sauerkraut
1/4 cup beet concentrate* (or a cup of beet juice boiled down to 1/4 cup)
1 tsp caraway seeds, ground into a powder
1 tsp sugar or honey
2 tsps vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream and chopped dill to garnish
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. As soon as it shimmers add the beef, the caraway, and salt and pepper well. Cook until browned on each side, about five minutes. You may have to work in batches so as not to crowd the pan and steam the meat.
Once all the meat is cooked, add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent, stirring often.
Add the carrots, the grated beets, the beet concentrate and enough water to cover the beef and vegetables by an inch.
Lower the heat and cook until the beef is cooked through and flakes apart between two forks, about an hour and a half, stirring from time to time and adding more water if needed.
Once the beef is cooked through, raise the heat to medium and add the honey and the sauerkraut. Cook until the sauerkraut is heated through.
Taste and add more salt and some vinegar if the sauerkraut does not make the Borscht tangy enough.
Serve pipping hot with sour cream and dill.
* I had never heard of beet concentrate until I took a friend with Polish DNA to my local Baltic grocery store and she got very excited about finding some. I purchased the Krankus brand from Poland and it did add great depth of flavor to the soup.