winter borscht

I made a big batch of soup to use my dill this weekend and, in the end, nearly forgot to put the dill in. I had the soup all portioned into containers to freeze and opened the fridge to grab something else and saw the dill looking at me like, “Haven’t you forgotten something?” Oops. Chopped it up and stirred the bits and pieces into my various containers. Better late than never.

This was a great recipe for using up lots of Loft items — a half-cabbage from a couple of weeks ago that was getting a bit brown in spots, a few beets, an onion, some carrots and, yes, the dill.

The soup is called Winter Borscht, and the recipe comes from Simply in Season, the same recipe book I went on about in last week’s post about vegetarian chili. I made some changes to the recipe, which has the whole soup cooking for only 30 minutes, which I found odd. Stewing beef will never get tender in 30 minutes, so I turned this into a whole-day affair and just let it simmer and simmer until everything was tender.

Miraculously, my 14-month-old ate a giant bowl of this not once, but twice. I had to puree it first. It’s terribly ugly that way — it turns into a colour for which there is no name — but what more can a mother ask for than for her kid to eat something as healthy as this?

Winter Borscht

1 lb stewing beef, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
8 cups water
2 cups potatoes, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 cup beets, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup barley
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh chives (optional)
1 tbsp oil

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown beef on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

2. Add onions, carrots and beets and saute until onion softens.

3. Add cabbage, beef, bay leaves, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer until beef is very tender, which may take a few hours. (A slow cooker is a good option if you have one — follow the same steps, transferring everything to a slow cooker.

4. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the barley and dill.


– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.