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Not Your Grandma's Borscht

Not Your Grandma's Borscht

During my recent trip to New York, my mom and I had the very famous borscht from Veselka. While it was good, and the lima beans it contained were a revelation in borscht, it did not have the vinegary tang of my Carpatho-Rusyn grandmother's soup.

I came home from my trip determined to recreate my grandmother's borscht and -- of course -- ended up with something completely different. Not my grandma's borscht, not your grandma's borscht, but a pretty delicious borscht none the less.

This will make four servings of borscht - one for you and three for the freezer

4 cooked and peeled red beets, grated

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1/4 Polska Kielbasa, cubed into bite-sized pieces

1 bunch lacinato kale, very finely chopped and stem ends removed

2 cups beet juice

2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp olive or vegetable oil

2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 bay leaf

1 tsp very finely chopped fresh sage leaves

Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pan.

As soon as it shimmers, add the Kielbasa and the onion and cook, stirring often, over low heat until the onion pieces are translucent and soft and the Kielbasa pieces are browned on all sides. This will only take a couple of minutes.

Stir in the bay leaf and the chopped sage and some salt and pepper, before adding the grated beets and carrot. Stir well to combine.

Lower the heat and add the beet juice and the chicken stock. Cover and cook for about five to seven minutes until the beets and carrots are completely cooked through.

Stir in the vinegars (if you do not like sour food in the way that we of Baltic origin do, you may want to start with half that amount of vinegar and work your way up) as well as the kale and cook for an additional minute or so until the kale is wilted.

Remove the bay leaf from the pan, check for seasoning and ladle into your favorite bowl. Top with a generous dollop of sour cream. Had I remembered to buy it, I would have added a mound of chopped dill to the top of the sour cream, but I didn't so I added a drizzle of sage oil instead.


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