Veselka, in NY's east village, is an old favorite for home-style ukranian cooking. if i can't make it there, i love recreating their borscht at home. butttered challah on the side is great for dunking. *this recipe makes enough for leftovers and always tastes better the second day*
1 1/2 lb shortribs of beef
8-10 cups water
1 T vegetable oil
1 med onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
6 whole blk peppercorns
5 medium beets, rinse & cut stems w/ 1" remaining
1 onion, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 t garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 lg potato, diced
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 T butter
2 T red wine vinegar
Heat oil for the stock in large pot med-high heat. Add onion, and then shortribs; brown on all sides. Add water gradually to deglaze and put spices in the pot; bring to boil and skim any foam on the surface. Reduce heat to low & let simmer 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 and bake beets on cookie sheet for 1 hour. (this seems time-consuming but roasting the beets makes a big difference in flavor). Rinse hot beets in cold water so the skins slide off easily, then cool & dice into small pieces. Put aside in a bowl to add to the beef stock.
In another large pot, melt butter on med heat. Add onion, carrot, potato & cook 10 minutes. Add garlic, cabbage and saute another 5 minutes. Add beets, vinegar, and simmer until soft- about 20 minutes.
Take your shortribs out of the stockpot to cool, then pull beef off the bones, discarding any large bits of fat, and add the meat (and bones for extra flavor if you like) into the soup pot. Gradually transfer beef stock into the soup and simmer 10 minutes; add salt & pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and a large pinch of chopped dill on top.