Winter Borscht with Brisket
- ACTIVE: 1 HR
- TOTAL TIME: 4 HRS 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 10
- 3 pounds lean beef brisket, trimmed of any fat
- 4 quarts plus 2 cups water
- 3 onions, 2 halved, 1 finely chopped
- 3 carrots, 2 halved, 1 coarsely shredded
- 1 parsnip, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Kosher salt
- 2 large beets (1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 thick slice of meaty bacon
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups chopped green cabbage
- 3 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
- 1 medium Granny Smith applepeeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Reduced-fat sour cream, chopped dill and sliced scallions, for serving
- Cut the brisket into 4 pieces and put them in a large soup pot. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming. Add the halved onions, halved carrots, parsnip, bay leaf, peppercorns and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the meat is just tender, about 3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brisket to a cutting board and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Strain the broth into a bowl and discard the vegetables. Let the broth cool and skim off any fat.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Wrap the beets individually in foil and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then peel and coarsely grate them.
- Wipe out the soup pot, add the vegetable oil and heat. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and reserve for another use. Add the chopped onion, shredded carrot and green pepper and cook over moderate heat until just softened, about 7 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes longer. Add the reserved broth, the potatoes, tomatoes, apple and brisket and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and simmer until the potatoes are barely tender, 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low, add the beets and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes longer. Stir in the vinegar and sugar and season with salt.
- In a mortar, pound the garlic, parsley and 1 teaspoon of pepper to a paste; stir into the soup. Ladle the borscht into deep bowls and serve, passing the sour cream, dill and scallions at the table.
A fruity red will stand up to this sweet-and-sour hearty soup. Try a zesty California Zinfandel,.
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