Where are they headed? Eretz Yisrael. Italy. Costa Rica. Peru. Northern California, L.A.
Meanwhile, I’ve been home all winter, making buckets of vegetarian soup for buckets of people. I also tried one meat soup, really more a stew.
Here are two of them, a vegetarian borscht, this one based on two authentic recipes from my Ukrainian grandmother and my Russian friend Tonya. There’s also my first-ever oxtail stew, by special request from my favorite human being ever.
Borscht No. 43.7
2 teaspoons olive oil, butter, or safflower oil
One large Spanish onion or two large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 cloves garlic, optional
1/2 medium celeriac, shredded or cut into 4 pieces and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded or sliced the same size as the celeriac
4 medium beets, peeled and coarsely shredded (or quartered and sliced, the same size as the celeriac and carrots)
1 6 oz. can high-quality tomato paste or 12 oz. of imported tomato puree
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
4 medium potatoes (Russets are fine) peeled, quartered, and sliced a bit larger than the other roots
1 pound shredded white or red cabbage
1 tart apple (Granny Smith is good) peeled and sliced finely or shredded
1 teaspoon caraway seeds whole or smashed in a mortar or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Sweet paprika to taste, optional
1 bunch dill, chopped (use stems and fronds)
Scant 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2 cups good, raw saurkraut with it’s juice
Sea salt, black pepper to taste, optional
Cultured sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk, optional
Over medium-low flame, sauté the onion in the oil or butter (I used oil) until translucent, add garlic, and let cook for a moment, until garlic is fragrant. Add celeriac, carrots, beets, tomato paste, salt, and water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer over medium for 15 minutes.
Add potatoes, cabbage, and apple, stir.
Over medium-low flame, sauté the onion in the oil or butter (I used oil) until translucent, add garlic, and let cook for a moment, until garlic is fragrant. Add celeriac, carrots, beets, tomato paste, salt, and water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer over medium for for 15 minutes.
Add potatoes, cabbage, and apple, spices if using, and add more water to cover. Stir and simmer over medium flame for approximately 20 minutes or until cabbage is tender, add dill, cook another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Pour saurkraut juice and saurkraut into borscht, and taste for seasoning.
Serve with soured cream if you like. We liked it dairy-free. Great with a side of kasha varnishkes or quinoa. Even better the next day, hot or cold.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: Good quality tomato paste is sweet. But if your borscht is too sour, you could add 1 tablespoon of honey to sweeten it slightly.
2 pounds oxtails
1 peeled and chopped onion
4 cloves of sliced garlic
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 small parsnip, peeled and diced
2 small turnips, quartered
8 oz. of canned plum tomatoes, broken with the back of a wooden spoon
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1 1/2 cups of red wine or 1 1/2 cups water plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt, pepper to taste
Place two pounds of oxtails in a medium soup pot and cover with water (there should be at least 3 inches of water above the oxtails.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, turn down heat to simmer, and skim foam. Let cook uncovered for half an hour, then covered for approximately two hours, being sure to skim the broth and add water as needed.
Add 1 peeled and chopped onion, 4 cloves of sliced garlic, 2 carrots, peeled and sliced, 3 stalks of celery, sliced, 1 small parsnip, peeled and diced, 2 small turnips, quartered, 8 oz. of canned plum tomatoes, broken with the back of a wooden spoon, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, and more water if needed. Stir, lower heat, and simmer slowly for one hour.
Add 1 1/2 cups of red wine and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes or until meat is falling-off tender. Season to taste.
Serve with salad. Makes 4 large, 6 medium servings.
Variation 1-Even More Hearty: Add 2 cups diced potatoes when you add the root vegetables.
Variation 2-Braised: In deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic, celery, carrot in 1 tablespoon olive oil, remove vegetables from pan and reserve for later. Sauté oxtails until brown all over, cover with water, and cook for 2-3 hours, covered, skimming occasionally. Add remaining ingredients. Cook 2 more hours.
*Please check all vegetables for insects. This is a comprehensive guide with excellent photographs.