My grandmother is an excellent cook. She lives in Poland, but whenever I talk to her on the phone or Skype, she tells me about her latest recipe creations. She would be an excellent healthy food blogger because she has a knack for transforming typically high calorie dishes into light yet flavorful meals. I only lived in Poland for about 7 years of my life, but my sister and I traveled back to visit almost every summer through middle school and high school. She made us countless delicious meals, including Polish classics like pierogi, hunter’s stew, leniwe kopytka (potato and cheese dumplings), surowki (vinaigrette dressed coleslaws), kotlety schabowe (thinly pounded and breaded pork tenderloin), and kotlety mielone (a cross between hamburger and meatloaf), tomato soup, and Ukranian borscht. One summer, when I was 12, I decided to write down her recipes for my favorite classics. It was very challenging since she never measures anything! I’d ask how much flour she was using, for example, and she would say “a glassful.” Whenever she seasoned something it was with “a good amount” or a “heaping spoonful.” Back then I was all about precision, so it was frustrating to guesstimate how much of everything she was using. Now that I’m older and cook more often, I can relate to her way of doing things. It’s actually pretty tricky to blog recipes for me because my inclination is to eyeball measurements rather than busting out the measuring cups and spoons.
In spite of this tendency, here is a precisely measured recipe for one of my childhood favorites, Ukrainian Beet Soup! It’s packed full of veggies and so incredibly flavorful. The rye-bread taste of caraway seeds really stands out in this soup.
Ukrainian Beet Soup
A hearty vegetarian soup bursting with delicious caraway seed flavor
- 1 large potato, thinly sliced
- 1 large beet, thinly sliced
- 4 cups vegetable stock (can sub beef or chicken stock)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, chopped
- black pepper, to taste
- sour cream and fresh dill for topping
- 1. Cook sliced potatoes and beets in stock in a 2 gallon stockpot until vegetables are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the stock into a large bowl by pouring everything through a strainer. Set the potatoes and beets aside and keep the stock.
- Melt the butter and olive oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, caraway seeds, and salt. Cook down for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the cabbage and pour in the reserved stock. Covered, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
- Add the potatoes and beets back into the stockpot. Stir in vinegar, tomato sauce, and dill. Season with black pepper to adjust the taste to your liking. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream and fresh dill.
This is seriously one of my favorite soups of all time! Even if you don’t love beets, give it a try. It’s a wonderful way to use the sweet root vegetable in a seriously savory dish.