Hot Borscht

This very popular spring-beet soup takes on many forms, most of which fall into 3 basic types: hot with beef and beets, hot but meatless, and cold meatless. This recipe is for a meatless soup enriched with pureed vegetables and thickened slightly with beaten egg. The old-fashioned Russian way of making borscht uses the nutritious young beet leaves. Among East European Jews, the beets were often fermented before the soup was made.


serves 8
2 pounds beef brisket
2 pounds beef marrow bones
3 quarts water
6 young beets, with tops
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 onions, quartered
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten


1. Place the meat and bones in a large soup pot along with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam. While the water is heating, cut off the beet tops and chop them roughly. Peel and trim the beets, then quarter them.

2. When water boils, add the beets and tops to the pot along with the seasonings, bay leaf, onions, and garlic. Bring the liquid back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

3. Strain the soup. Remove the meat and bones, reserving the meat for your entree and discarding the bones. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the vegetables in a blender or food processor and return them to the soup.

4. Pour the soup back into the pot, but reserve 1 cup of liquid. Stir the sugar and vinegar into the soup.

5. Beat the eggs into the reserved cup of soup, and pour this mixture back into the soup. Heat the soup to just below boiling, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, and serve hot.

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