An early spring clean-out of fridge and garden naturally led to this delicious borscht. I’d been hoarding beets and carrots from the winter CSA and cabbage on sale for St. Patrick’s Day, and decided it was time to use them up. This was a refreshing stew for the “shoulder season” when it’s neither winter nor fully spring, and it tastes even better the next day. While I like to add fresh dill to the finished stew, I can get by with using dill seed. Caraway seed is more typical. I add it at the end since it can turn bitter when it’s cooked a long time. In the same afternoon, we were turning over our garden soil to plant peas and turnips and pulled out horseradish runner roots that were threatening to invade yet another bed. While we usually harvest thick roots of horseradish in late fall, the springtime skinny roots work just fine to make a delicate horseradish cream for the stew. With a good scrub, they were ready to be ground up with vinegar and salt since they were too skinny to peel.
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2’ pieces
1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Several sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
3 plum tomatoes, chopped, or 1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
About 6 c water
1 tsp salt
4-6 medium red beets (about 1lb), cut into 3/4” pieces
4-6 medium carrots (about 1/2 lb), cut into 3/4” pieces
2 medium yellow or waxy potatoes (about 1lb), cut into 3/4” pieces
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2-3 cups slivered green cabbage (more or less to taste)
1 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and black pepper
Chopped fresh dill
Sour cream or horseradish cream (see recipe below)
Saute the onion and celery in butter or vegetable oil over medium heat until soft. Add garlic, thyme, tomato or tomato paste and paprika and cook gently for about a minute. Add beets, water and salt and cook until the beets start to soften, about 15 minutes. If carrots are old, add them with the beets. Otherwise add them next with the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add the vinegar and cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes until the cabbage and other vegetables are tender. Add the caraway seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Add a tbsp or so of fresh dill to the stew and garnish with additional dill and sour cream or horseradish cream.
Note: I have also made this with beets that I roasted in advance.
Serves about 6.
2 tbsp grated horseradish (do this in a food processor or in a well ventilated room)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
Pinch of sugar (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 c sour cream
Combine horseradish, vinegar and sugar if using and let sit for 10 minutes. Combine with sour cream to taste.