Top | Jenny Holm
(recipe, Jenny Holm)
"Kuban" is what locals call the Krasnodar region of southwestern Russia, which is referred to in my essay about borscht. (Kuban is the name of a river that runs through the area.)
- 2 lb. bone-in beef chuck or shank, or 1½ lbs. boneless chuck or shank plus 2 beef marrow bones (about 1 lb.)
- 10 cups water
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 rib celery
- Small handful of parsley stems
- Small handful of black peppercorns (about 20 to 25)
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 4 medium red (boiling) potatoes, cut into ¾-inch chunks
- 6 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch matchsticks
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
- 1 lb. beets (about 3 medium beets), peeled and grated
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste or 2 medium fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 4 cups finely shredded cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp. lard (if desired, for a richer soup)
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Sour cream (for garnish, if desired)
- Make the stock: Place the beef, bones, and water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil, periodically skimming the foam from the surface with a slotted spoon. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low, add the other stock ingredients, and simmer until the beef is tender and the stock flavorful, approximately 1 hour.
- Remove the meat from the pot and set aside to cool. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large soup pot. Discard the bones and vegetables. Return the stock to the stovetop.
- Make the soup: Add the potatoes to the stock and let simmer just until tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the onions, green pepper, and carrots in 2 Tbsp. butter or oil until just softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a large bowl and set aside.
- In the skillet, sauté the beets, lemon juice, and tomato in 2 Tbsp. butter or oil until just softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetables to the bowl and set aside.
- Sauté the cabbage and vinegar in 2 Tbsp. butter or oil until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Cut the beef into 1-inch chunks. Add the beef, all the sautéed vegetables, and the sugar to the stock, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue simmering until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Mash the garlic, salt, and lard (if using) together in a mortar and add to the soup. Stir in the cilantro and parsley and remove the pot from the burner. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the soup stand 10 minutes before serving, or, for the best flavor, chill overnight in the refrigerator before reheating to serve the next day.
- At the table, garnish each bowl with additional chopped fresh cilantro and/or parsley and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.