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It wouldn’t be Calgary if we didn’t get some of that terrible white stuff in May! While my little plants shiver in their beds outside, all I can do is look for a silver lining. At least the cooler weather allows me enjoy what will hopefully be the last wintery meal until well into September! The fresh spring harvest is already pouring into the farmers markets, and soon we will forget our root vegetables for the time being. I decided to give the humble beet one last day in the spotlight by cooking up a batch of borscht.

This recipe is an amalgam of my grandmothers traditional  Ukrainian borscht, an Austrian recipe from my “soups and stocks” teacher at SAIT, and a few tricks of my own I have picked up along the way. Feel free to tweak and change it to fit your own tastes, and please don’t tell my grandmother that I’ve tampered with her recipe!

6 large beets
1 large carrot
2 leeks
½ small cabbage
150g left over roast -beef is best
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tsp caraway seeds
1 ½ tsp dried dill
2 ½ L beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar -taste after adding each tablespoon

Preheat oven to 350F. Wash the beets thoroughly and cut them in half lengthwise. Roast the beets for about 20 minutes, until they are just starting to soften up. Set aside to cool.

While the beets are roasting, julienne carrot, leeks, cabbage, and beef. Once beets have cooled down, peel and julienne them as well.

In a 6 L soup pot, saute carrots, leeks, cabbage and caraway seeds for a few minutes until they become fragrant. Add the beets, dill, stock and bay leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the roast and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Finally, add the salt, pepper and vinegar, adjust to your own taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a crusty roll. Enjoy!

A few helpful tips:

This soup freezes beautifully, and makes a great starter to any hearty prairie meal!

Like most recipes, a sharp knife is your most important tool. Make sure to give your knife a good hone before tackling all that julienning, and keep in mind, cutting on glass or plastic cutting boards dulls you knife much quicker than wood or wood composite cutting boards. If doing so, you may have to stop and re-hone your knife half way through.