Recipe: Borscht

Americans seem to have an impression that borscht is a purple mixture of beets heated up. Not so. It's actually a meat and tomato based soup with beets thrown in. At least the way they always made it for me. This was by far my favorite borscht (every babushka has her own family) because it has a little kick to it. I can't replicate it exactly, though, because Nina (the lady who gave me the recipe) had a marvelous little hot pepper tree that she grew in her window sill that she made a puree out of for the spicing up...I haven't really found (and maybe can't exactly remember anymore)the right peppers. But it's still delicious! Ukraine in a bowl. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

1-2 pounds of stew beef boiled in 5 liters of water with 5 Tbsp. bouillion granules
2 carrots, grated
2 small beets, grated
4 Tbsp. margarine
4 small onions, chopped
6 small potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
red pepper flakes to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped

Fry carrots and beets together in margarine until nearly transparent, about 8 minutes, add to pot of meat and water. Add onions and potatoes and boil for 15 minutes. Add cabbage and boil until tender crisp. Finally, stir in tomato paste, garlic, and pepper flakes. (For spicier soup, add the pepper flakes when you put the potatoes in.) Add cilantro just before serving, stir well. Serve with sour cream.

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