All posts filed under “BEEF

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PERU: Sopa Minuta

PERU: Sopa Minuta

IMG_3945We were super excited to draw Peru out of the cup just a couple of weeks before we were to leave for 3 weeks in Peru!   We had a FANTASTIC time and saw, learned, and experienced so much – including hiking the Inca trail where the boys earned from the various guides on the trail the nickname “Alpacitos” (baby alpacas – as opposed to baby goats) as they scampered along.

While the boys love exploring Cusco – a city full of Incan history, colonial balconies, and (very) thin air…IMG_3580…they both REALLY loved Lima – a city full of gorgeous buildings, ceviche, public parks, and (the pièce de résistance) an arcade in the mall across the street from the hotel we stayed in.  They want to move there… to the hotel that is.    I wouldn’t mind either.  (Shout out to Christian from the JW Marriott… if you’re reading this – you made our stay in Lima so fun!  So fun connecting with another foodie!)


See that flag above the boys? It’s on the hostel I stayed in 20 years ago. We stopped in to see if they still have peacocks on the roof. Yes, they do. Also, the boys were beyond fascinated by the crypts under the yellow church (Catedral San Francisco) and the hundreds of thousands of bones on display. Boys.


One of the highlights of our trip was visiting a small farming village about an hour outside of Cusco where 32 families live and farm at 14,000 feet elevation.  The primary language is Quechua (the language of the Inca) and many of the children don’t have the opportunity to attend school as they are busy working the fields.  That said, there is an organization there now that has set up a fantastic school (one room, 40 kids ranging from 6-16, one teacher!) where the kids are learning to read and write in Spanish and English, taught computer skills, and provided a safe space to learn and study.  It was amazing and humbling to see what the teachers and kids are able to accomplish with so little.  That said, they need so much and we will be publishing a list of their needs and how you can help these kids.  Stay tuned for more information.


The boys in red next to Beckett are the same age as him.  Look how TALL Beckett is by comparison! The local boys were fascinated by the “giant boy in glasses”.



Meanwhile, Calvin made quick friends through the universal language of drawing cartoons.



While we visited the school, the moms prepared a lesson for us in sheering sheep + alpacas, making yarn, dying the yarn and lastly weaving the materials.

If any of your are planning to travel to Peru with your kids, I have so much advice!  Just send me an email and I’ll send you all my thoughts.



2014_12_soop_peru-15Alrighty, on to the soup.  We chose “Sopa Minuta” a classic soup loved throughout much of Peru for it’s ease, simplicity, and speed.  It is found on menus all over the country and know by most everyone.  That said, as we traveled through different parts of the country, the boys would make new friends and chat them up about our soup project and the response was invariably, “oh yes, Sopa Minuta is good, but you should really make……”.   In fact, one hotel we stayed at, even surprised us by giving us a recipe to add to our roster.  So sweet!

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.54.39 PMSo, we just might have to repeat Peru a few times until we find our favorites.  We’ll have to add “Quinua Soap” (aka Quinoa Soup), Chupe de Quinoa, and Moraya (dried potato soup).  Look for those soups at some point during this project.

Anyway,  like I said, Sopa Minuta is made all over the country and is made differently by each household- much like chicken noodle soup here in the US.  We had it a few times in different places in Peru and it was drastically different – some include tomato sauce, some milk; some include ground beef, others chunks of sirloin.  That said, the common ingredients are noodles (I use rice noodles to make it GF), beef, oregano, and a Peruvian chile paste made from aji panca.  If you can’t find it in any of your local Hispanic markets, you can purchase it online.  It is not spicy, but provides THE flavor for the soup.  There is no substitute, so do yourself a favor and find a jar somewhere because once you try this, you will want to make it over and over.  Plus, you can use it in the “quinua soap” recipe above.  🙂

This soup comes together in about 15 minutes and is hearty and filling enough for a quick weeknight meal.  Pair this with a little salad (and maybe a pisco sour or two) and you’re all set!

2014_12_soop_peru-1Sopa Minuta
Serves 4


  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil – sunflower,  canola, etc
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons aji panca paste
  • 1 pound ground beef  – or sirloin cut into cubes if your prefer
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons GF tamari – or regular soy sauce if you can eat it
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta (I use THIS brand and cannot tell it’s not regular pasta).
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Add tomato and aji panca pastes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.2014_12_soop_peru-5
  2. Crumble the beef into the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through.2014_12_soop_peru-8
  3. Pour hot water into the mixture and add soy sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes.2014_12_soop_peru-11
  5. While noodles are cooking, crack eggs into a cup and stir until well blended. (Make sure you don’t accidentally get shells in there!)  Then gently stir eggs into soup – stirring continuously.  Eggs will form long thin noodle like strings (like an egg drop soup).2014_12_soop_peru-9 2014_12_soop_peru-102014_12_soop_peru-12
  6. Remove from heat season the mixture with oregano and salt + pepper (to taste).2014_12_soop_peru-13
  7. Add cream and serve.

Cook’s Notes

This recipe ended up on all of our favorites list and will be on repeat at our house frequently.  It’s very savory and comforting.  My #1 of all so far!

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BULGARIA: Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian meatball soup) Супа топчета

BULGARIA: Supa Topcheta/Супа топчета

2014_11_soop_bulgaria-13Here’s what we learned about Bulgaria in  our research this week:

  •  Yogurt is extremely popular in Bulgaria and eating it is believed to give you a longer life.
  • Bulgarians shake their heads to mean yes and nod for no.
  • Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since it was first established in 681 AD.
  • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is named after his grandfather (Marko) who emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940.
  • Many believe that wine has been produced in Bulgaria since the stone age!

I had the great fortune to attend a singing workshop with the lovely ladies of Kitka Vocal Ensemble where I learned how to sing in the Eastern European style.  The technique involves a different use of my throat/nose than I had ever been exposed to and the harmonies are haunting.  Here is a gorgeous song by Kitka.  I honestly don’t know if it’s Bulgarian, but it sure is pretty.  And here is a Bulgarian group singing in traditional Bulgarian costumes.


Calvin found this recipe on pinterest and was sold the minute he saw the word “meatballs”.  We love us some meatballs in our house – from Italian wedding soup, to Vietnamese beef balls in our pho, spaghetti and meatballs – we love them all.  And now we have a new favorite meatball that is also GLUTEN FREE!!  Whoo-hoo!  In Bulgaria, they add rice to their meatballs instead of bread and, I’m telling you we will be doing the same henceforth in our house.  I was a little confused by all the recipes I found online because none of them told me whether the rice should be cooked or uncooked when adding them to the meatballs, so I rolled the dice and opted for uncooked which was correct.  Phew!

Supa Topcheta can be made about as many different ways as our own Chicken Noodle soup, so this recipe is an amalgam of various recipes found online with a few of our own ideas tossed in for good measure.  In the end, it was a winner.  All thumbs up!2014_11_soop_bulgaria-11Apparently, it was “everyone wear red” night at our house.  I didn’t even notice until processing the photos.  Funny.  Also, if you don’t like losing, never play Yahtzee with Calvin.  He is a ringer.  You have been warned.

2014_11_soop_bulgaria-1Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian meatball soup) Супа топчета
Serves 4-6


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried savory
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela’s)

For the Soup

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small celery root, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (not fat free)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the meatballs by combining all the meatball ingredients EXCEPT the flour in a large bowl and mixing well by hand.   Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes (more for better flavor) to allow flavors to meld. Once meat has rested, roll into 1 inch meatballs.  2014_11_soop_bulgaria-2
  2. Roll each meatball in gluten free flour and shake off any excess.  2014_11_soop_bulgaria-6
  3. Bring the water and beef broth to a boil in a large soup pot.  Add salt.  When water is boiling vigorously, add meatballs in batches – maintaining a solid boil.  Once all meatballs have been added, add carrots, celery root and tomatoes.  Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.2014_11_soop_bulgaria-8
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk egg yolks until smooth.  Add yogurt and lemon juice and whisk well until smooth.2014_11_soop_bulgaria-7
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth from the soup pot in a thin stream – stirring constantly.  If you add the broth too quickly, the egg/yogurt will curdle, so make sure to go slow and steady as  you add the hot broth to the egg/yogurt.  Once you have added 1/2 cup of hot broth, slowly pour the egg/yogurt into the soup pot – again going slowly and stirring constantly
  6. Finally stir in the chopped parsley and serve.



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HUNGARY: Sertéspörkölt (pork goulash)

HUNGARY: Sertéspörkölt  (pork goulash)


Here’s what we learned  in  our research/kitchen time this week:

  •  There are actually 3 Hungarian stews made from onions, meat and paprika: gulyás, pörkölt and paprikás.
  • The dish called pörkölt (pronounced PURR-colt) is what we Americans call “goulash” (thick meaty stew).  Gulyás is a soup and paprikás is similar to pörkölt, but only made with chicken.
  • When chopping onions, if you chew gum at the same time, you will not cry.
  • Speaking of onions, do not be scared off by the amount of onion in this recipe.  Rather than making the stew bracing, they actually caramelize down to bring a wonderful sweetness to the stew.
  • The Rubik’s cube was invented in Hungary (and none of us can solve it).
  • This dish matches the colors of the Hungarian flag: red, white, & green.

If you’re curious to hear how Hungarian sounds as sertéspörkölt is being made, here you go!  He makes his a little differently from how I make mine, but the recipe is fairly similar.


Calvin researched Hungarian soups for about 4 seconds before pointing at a photo of Pörkölt and saying, “that’s it!  Let’s make that!”  Okay kid.

It took me a few tries to get this recipe right – it was good the first night, but kind of a pain to make, so I retooled the recipe and made it again the next night.  Everyone agreed that not only was the stew better, but it was WAY easier and produced many fewer dishes!

Calvin was eager to help my chop all the onions required for this dish because I’d told him about a theory that chewing gum keeps you from crying while chopping onions.
The verdict: it works!

The big issue with this meal was my attempt to make a gluten-free version of traditional Hungarian nokedli which are basically spaetzle.  My first several attempts were actually laughably bad, but the last version (a modified version of THIS recipe) actually worked okaaaay, but I didn’t think it was good enough yet.  We all liked the pörkölt better with the pasta, but just to prove that I made my own nokedli (no matter how bland they were) here is photo proof!


Okay, so side aside, this is a TOTAL keeper recipe.  Even after eating it for dinner two nights in a row, everyone agreed that this should go into regular rotation.  Even my soup-reluctant husband said I should make it again.  This is the PERFECT fall/winter dish that will simply simmer all afternoon and make you feel all warm and cozy when you eat it.  Next time, completely divergent from traditional pörkölt, we will make a gremolata (chopped parsley, fresh garlic, and lemon zest) to bring a little zing to the finished product.  Oh, and the pepper relish from Comoros (poutou) was pretty stellar with this dish too.  Hungarian/Comoran fusion cooking…. coming soon to a kitchen near you!

Finally, though this would have been stellar with a red wine, the only Hungarian wine we could find this Irsai Oliverweekend was a fantastic white from the foot of the Mátra mountains.  This description from the importer nails it:

Originally crossed in 1930, the parents of this native grape are Gewürztraminer and Muscat Ottonel. Not surprisingly, it’s incredibly perfumed and floral. That said, its not fat and weighty on the palette like Gewürztraminer can often be and has there’s no detectable residual sugar either. The finish has a mineral, almost saline quality that balances out the Muscat heavy aromatics. And while the style is decidedly reductive, it opens up right away and jumps out of the glass even when chilled. While it can easily stand alone as an aperitif, it pairs beautifully when fruit and salt play off of each other. Prosciutto and melon is a classic, but we’ve also found that Indian food (especially chutneys) pairs extremely well.

You can get  wines from along the Danube from these guys including the Irsai Oliver we loved this weekend.


Sertéspörkölt (Hungarian Pork Stew)
Serves 8


  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or lard
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 pounds pork butt shoulder, trimmed of bones and fat and cut into 1 cubes
  • 2 medium banana peppers*, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 large tomato*, chopped or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons sweet Hungarian* paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat large dutch oven or soup pot over medium low heat.  Add bacon fat or lard to pot and render.  Add onions and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to caramelize and have changed from white, past opaque, to deep tan.  Go slowly so onions don’t burn – this is the most important part of the whole meal.  This step should take at least 30 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and pork, increase heat to medium and stir constantly until pork is cooked on all sides and beginning to release its juices.soop_hungary_oct14-7
  3. Add chopped pepper and tomato.  Combine well.  Add 6 cups water paprika, caraway and marjoram, stirring gently to combine.  Simmer, uncovered,  until most of the liquid has boiled down and sauce is a thick gravy (approximately 1.5 hours though you could go all day so long as you make sure there is enough water in the pot).soop_hungary_oct14-8
  4. Check pork for tenderness.  If it is not quite tender, add another cup of water and simmer longer until sauce is desired consistency.  Once pork is tender enough to be cut easily with a fork, add salt and season with pepper to taste and serve over a bed of pasta.soop_hungary_oct14-9

Cook’s Notes

* If you can’t find a banana pepper, yellow gypsy peppers or yellow, green or red bell peppers would work.  We used red pepper and chopped it small to hide it from our boys who think they don’t like peppers.

* Unless you are in the middle of tomato season, use canned tomatoes as they will have much more flavor that the flavorless winter tomatoes.  We used dry farmed tomatoes which are possibly the most delicious thing on the face of the planet.

* Hungarian paprika is very different from the standard paprika you can find at the grocery store.  It is not expensive and totally worth seeking out.  It comes in “sweet” and “hot”.  Here’s more about paprika.

Traditionally, this would be served with a spaetzle-like pasta called nokedli.  I tried 4 different times to perfect a gluten-free version of nokedli and finally gave up and served it over Jovial’s gluten free egg tagliatelle.


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SOUTH KOREA: Beef Seaweed Soup with Clams (소고기 미역국)

SOUTH KOREA: Beef Seaweed Soup with Clams / Sogogi Miyeok-guk (소고기 미역국)

The moment we drew South Korea we called our good friend Beau, who just moved back to the USA after spending the last 10+ years in South Korea, and asked him his advice. Without hesitation, he suggested Miyoek-guk. Actually his words were “Oh dear… um… Korean soups are really complex.  There’s a great one called Miyoek-guk. Miyoek = seaweed. Guk= soup. Seaweed slightly fried with soy sauce, sesame oil and tiny bits of pork. Then put into an amazingly savory soup often with tiny clams….” and then he fell silent with a dreamy look on his face. Okay, so we have our soup because Beckett heard the wistfulness, seaweed, savory + clams and he was sold.

Researching South Korea

Miyoek-guk is quite famous in Korea and is referred to as “birthday soup”.   It is the first food that new mothers eat once they give birth and people traditionally eat it on each birthday to commemorate their day of birth – hence the nickname.  According to legend, many, many years ago Koreans observed whales eating seaweed after giving birth and adopted the same technique for postpartum recovery.  It’s no wonder whales eat it: seaweed, one of nature’s superfoods, contains amazing amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and is purported to assist with healthy immune systems, proper thyroid function, and healthy blood pressure.

But wait!  There’s more! Apparently, seaweed is also really great for brain function and is often given to students before exams.  (Note to self:  remember this!  In order to do so, please eat more seaweed!) 

Based on recipes online, it appears that Korean “birthday soup” can be made with beef, pork, clams, or vegetarian.  For our version, we opted for beef + clams.   soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-13

Beef Seaweed Soup with Clams
Serving: 8-10



  • 2 teaspoons of Korean soy sauce* (guk-ganjang)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1/2 lb lean meat such as brisket or flank steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb small clams**
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 oz (30g) dried seaweed (miyeok) (approximately 2 cups), cut or broken into 1-2″ pieces
  • 10 cups water
  • 4  tablespoons  Korean soy sauce* (guk-ganjang)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce, preferably Korean anchovy
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced very thin
  • 1 green onion, sliced very thin

* Gluten free Korean soy sauce is available online. I found it on Amazon.
** If you can’t find good fresh clams, many asian grocery stores carry packages of small clams in the frozen section.


  1. Prepare the marinade by mixing all ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef and allow it to marinate while you complete the next steps.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-2
  2.   Prepare clams by placing them in a large pot and cover completely with 10 cups cold water.  Bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to low.  Skim any foam.  Boil 20 minutes.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-1
  3. soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-3
  4. Strain clam broth through a cheesecloth, reserving both the broth and the clams, but discarding all impurities.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-7
  5.  Drain the seaweed then massage with 3 tablespoons of salt until seaweed is evenly coated.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-5
  6. Rinse salted seaweed with cold water 3 to 5 times until it no longer foams and all dirt and salt is removed.  Pull apart and discard any extra thick or stringy pieces of seaweed.    Squeeze out any excess water.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-6
  7.  Heat a medium-sized pot on medium heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and sauté the marinated beef for 2 minutes.  Add chopped seaweed and sauté on medium for 5-10 minutes until most of the moisture of the seaweed is gone.  Be sure to stir frequently so seaweed does not burn.soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-9soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-10
  8. Add clam broth, clams, soy sauce, fish sauce,  garlic + green onions.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour (soup develops more flavor the longer it cooks)soop_SOUTHKOREA_sept14-11.

We tried several different kinds of seaweed and there was a definite winner.  If you can find this brand, you’ll be pleased you did.  Some of the others we tried were extra slimy, overly fishy, or simply fell apart.  This seaweed retains its crunch and delicate flavor.  Thumbs up.

The Meal:

Well, the Miyeok-Guk was not a huge hit with the kids*, but the adults all enjoyed it quite a bit once we put in extra hot sauce and kimchee.  We served it with egg custard (gyeran jjim), kimchee, bulgogi, rice, seaweed salad and Trader Joes’ Korean veggie pancakes (pa jeon).  Everyone left full and hopefully a little smarter thanks to the seaweed superfood.


*My theory on why it wasn’t a hit with the kids: we didn’t use the good seaweed and didn’t put enough soy sauce in the first batch.  When I tested the recipe again the next day with the good seaweed and more soy sauce, it was wolfed down.   The recipe above has been adjusted to reflect that modification.

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UKRAINE: Red Borscht


My borscht came out a little more red than I had planned, so I increased the amount of beet in the recipe below.

UKRAINE: Red Borscht

With nearly as many variations on the recipe as good old chicken noodle soup, it’s tricky to nail down an “official” borscht (also called borsch) recipe.  Only a few things are certain: borscht contains beets and Ukrainians claim that this popular Eastern European soup comes from Ukraine.  This version is an amalgam of recipes found all over the interwebs and in various cookbooks.

For a fun history of Borscht and its effect on Ukrainians, take a gander at THIS blog posting.  And to keep it traditional, consider sipping on ice-cold vodka while cooking and eating.

Let’s get started shall we?  My afternoon sous chef,  Beckett, and I gathered all the ingredients we needed to get ourselves started, turned up the radio and got to it.


Ukrainian Borscht
Serving: 8-10

  • 1.5 pounds pork butt shoulder or boneless beef chuck (I used 2 cuts of osso buco – totally not traditional, I know, but the cuts were reasonably priced and it worked wonderfully)
  • 1 Tbsp salt + more to taste
  • 4 medium beet roots, washed, peeled and grated
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 2 parsnips, grated
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1Tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley stems
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • 4 small russet potatoes, washed, peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/4” pieces
  • ½ head of green cabbage, sliced very thin
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 large clove garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt + sugar to taste
  • 0.15 – 0.25 lb salted salo*
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • Garnish: sour cream and lemon wedges



  1. Cut the meat into 1” pieces and place them in a pot filled with 12 cups cold water and1TBSP of salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any fat/crud on the surface. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer 45 minutes – 1 hr, periodically skimming off any crud that rises to the top.

    mmmm... yummy... scum!

    mmmm… yummy… scum!

  2. While the meat is cooking, grate beets, carrots and parsnips (keep the beets separate from the carrots and parsnips) on the large grater holes (you can use a food processor if you have one). Prepare all other ingredients – cut potatoes, slice cabbage, dice onions, etc.soop_ukraine_sept14-4soop_ukraine_sept14-6
    While it's not Ukrainian vodka, it is vodka, was straight out of the freezer, and was delicious.

    While it’s not Ukrainian vodka, it is vodka, was straight out of the freezer, and was delicious.


    You may notice the tomatoes in the background. They have been omitted from the recipe because they didn’t add anything to the dish, in my humble opinion.

    Caught red-handed!!

    Caught red-handed!!

  3. Place the beets in a large heavy-bottom skillet with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 3 minutes, then reduce heat to med/low and add 1 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and sauté until starting to soften, stirring occasionally (about 10 min). Remove from pan and set aside.soop_ukraine_sept14-14
  4. In the same skillet (do not wash after the beets), sauté onion in 1 Tbsp butter for 2 min. Add grated carrot, parsnip + tomato and sauté another 5 min or until softened, adding more oil if it seems too dry.soop_ukraine_sept14-15
  5. Once the meat has been cooking at least 45 min, skim any crud off the top, scrape marrow out of osso bucco bones, and remove bones and tendon.  (Give bones to dogs, if you have them once they’ve cooled to make sure your dog will love you forever and ever.)  Place bay leaves, peppercorns and sliced potatoes into the soup pot.  Add beef broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 min.
  6. Add cabbage, sautéed beets, onion, carrots, parsnips and parsley stems. Cook another 10 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.soop_ukraine_sept14-21
  7. Add chopped parsley and 1 clove of minced garlic then stir them into the soup pot. Immediately cover and remove from heat. (Over-boiling borscht will affect the soup’s color; bringing it from bright magenta to dark brick-red).soop_ukraine_sept14-22
  8. Check for salt and sugar flavors and add more of either if desired.
  9. Cut the salted salo into small pieces**. Add the remaining minced clove of garlic. Grind them together in a deep bowl with a wooden spoon (or blend in a mini food processor) until it forms a rough paste.  Stir into the cooked borscht. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving so the flavors can meld.soop_ukraine_sept14-18
    My pal, vodka, lending a hand here.

    My pal, vodka, lending a hand here.

    This is how it looked post food-processing.  It melted into the soup like a champ and gave a wonderful depth of flavor.

    This is how it looked post food-processing. It melted into the soup like a champ and gave a wonderful depth of flavor.

  10. To serve, top with a tablespoon of sour cream and a small sprig of fresh dill.  Serve lemon on the side for those who desire more acidity in their soup.soop_ukraine_sept14-24

* Salted Salo is a traditional Eastern European food consisting of cured slabs of fatback. It has little to no meat and is quite similar to Italian lardo. If you cannot find salo or lardo, Trader Joes’ bacon ends and pieces can be used in a pinch by cutting off the meat and using just the fat.

** If possible, ask your butcher to slice the salo, lardo, or bacon into thick bacon slices and store it in the freezer until you are ready to chop it.  Chopping frozen fat is easy-peasy.

Once our borscht was simmering away, we were lucky to lure our BFFs (and luckily, neighbors) to join us for our feast which we completed with (a not insignificant amount of) vodka and a salad of quartered tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, fresh dill, and cannolini beans all tossed in sour cream.  Oh, and for my oenophile friends, a crisp rosé paired quite nicely with the borscht once we moved away from the vodka.soop_ukraine_sept14-23


The people have spoken: 2 thumbs up, 1 middle thumb, and 1 thumbs down (but with a smile).


Thanks for sharing our first adventure in SOOP you brave, brave souls.

Enjoy and as they say in Ukraine, Budmo! This means approximately ‘shall we live forever!’ Usually, one person says ‘Budmo!’ and everybody at the table/party answers ‘Hey!’ (the meaning is straightforward). This repeats for up to 3 times depending on the mood of the crowd. Only then, everybody empties their glasses.