Growing up, my mom used to make borscht. She learned from my grandmother, who most likely learned from my great grandmother. A family tradition. This version is based mostly on the original recipe, but modified slightly only because these were the main ingredients I happened to have on hand. The hickory smoked bacon added a subtle smokiness and complexity that went well with the sweet tender beets. It was a pleasant surprise. You will need a very large dutch oven or soup pot as this recipe makes allot of soup. Freeze half of the soup for another day. Or cut the recipe in half to suit your needs.
Beets are full of nutrients, especially the beet greens. They can offer many health benefits that can help lower blood pressure, boost stamina, support detoxification and brain function, fight cancer and inflammation.
They are also one of the vegetables with the highest sugar content, so eat them in moderation.
6 strips all-natural thick-cut hickory smoked bacon (cut into pieces, about 2 cups uncooked)
2 cups chopped sweet onion
3 medium sized organic beets (washed and peeled), chopped spoon size or shredded (about 3 cups)
2 cups chopped beet stems and leaves
3 cups chopped spoon size cabbage
2 medium sized potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups low sodium, all-natural beef broth
6 to 7 cups of hot water
3/4 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons white vinegar
fresh dill and sour cream for garnish
(To make this vegetarian, leave out the bacon and saute the onions in a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until slightly caramelized. Substitute the beef broth with a low-sodium organic vegetable broth.)
First, prepare and cut all the vegetables and bacon and set aside. In a very large dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat cook the bacon until slightly crispy. Add a tablespoon of butter and add the onion. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened and translucent.
Add the rest of the vegetables except for potatoes to the pot and saute for several minutes. Stir occasionally.
Once all the vegetables have begun to sweat, increase the heat to high and add the beef broth, potatoes and water. Bring to a gentle boil, stir and add the thyme, bay leaves and a little ground pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. Wait until the last 10 minutes of cooking to season with salt, any additional pepper and the vinegar to taste. Prior to serving, top with fresh dill and a dollop of sour cream.