CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Ukranian Borscht

There has been a lot going on in world news these days, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing as the result of global warming. But one of the most noticeable and talked-about events is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

I live in East Grand Forks, in Minnesota, on the border with North Dakota, the home of many Germans from Russia as well ethnic Ukranians who emigrated from Ukraine in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, so this crisis has hit pretty close to home.

I have many friends who are descended from those people who immigrated to the Dakotas, Iowa and the Canadian prairie provinces, including former co-worker Steve Schmidt, who years ago shared his grandmother’s recipe for borscht, a hearty, vegetable-laden soup with roots in Ukraine.

I’ve made borscht a few times over the years, coming up with my own version that combines elements of Steve’s recipe and others that have caught my eye. I’ve found the soup is best when made with fresh vegetables from my garden, but most of the ingredients are available year-round in supermarkets, so the soup is perfect fare for cold winter days.

And it might just be the perfect food at a time when we might be witnessing a return to the Cold War.

Ukranian Borscht
8 cups water
1-pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank
1 cup tomato juice
3 beef bouillon cubes
6 carrots, 1-inch slices
6 small beets, cooked and diced
1 cup cabbage, chopped
1 cup green beans
1 onion diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Sour cream
Place all the ingredients in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with sour cream.

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