Most Eastern European countries have a version of borshch (borscht). Sometimes it's a vegetarian soup served cold. Sometimes it's a carnivore's dream served hot. Bright red beets are the one constant. Wear gloves when grating the beets to avoid staining your hands.
1/2 cup dried navy beans
3/4 pound beef chuck top blade steak, cubed, or beef stew meat
6 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth, divided
1 smoked ham hock (about 10 ounces)
1 bay leaf
2 large carrots
1 celery stalk
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups diced seeded peeled tomato
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 large beets, peeled and grated
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup light sour cream
How to Make It
Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef to pan; cook 5 to 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add 1 cup broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 5 cups broth, ham hock, and bay leaf. Cut 1 onion, 1 carrot, and celery stalk in half; add to soup. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour.
Drain beans; add to soup. Cover and simmer 40 to 50 minutes or until beef and ham hock are tender. Remove ham hock to a cutting board to cool. Remove and discard bay leaf, onion, carrot, and celery. Strain soup through a sieve into a large bowl, reserving stock. Set beef and beans aside. Remove meat from ham hock, and chop; discard skin, fat, and bone.
Place a large zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-quart glass measure. Pour stock into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain stock into bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat.
Finely chop remaining onion and carrot. Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and carrot; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and tomato paste; cook 5 minutes or until tomato breaks down. Mash tomato with a wooden spoon. Add stock, beets, potato, and parsnip; bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes until potato and parsnip are tender.
Return beef, beans, and ham hock meat to soup. Add cabbage, 6 tablespoons dill, and garlic; cook 15 to 20 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve soup with remaining 2 tablespoons dill and sour cream.
Dill A member of the parsley family, dill leaves and seeds lend subtle aromas of caraway and lemon to countless Eastern European dishes like pickles, salads, soups, and stews. To make fresh dill last longer, wrap the stems in a damp paper towel in a produce bag or stand the herbs upright in a tall glass of water, and refrigerate.