Growing up in the Ukraine, borscht was a big presence in my life. My grandmother made it all the time, especially in winter when root vegetables were pretty much all we had available at the markets. Similar to the American chicken soup, borscht made us feel better no matter what ailed us. It was the ultimate comfort food. As I got older, memories of my childhood faded away and I forgot about borscht and its healing properties.
I recently found myself rediscovering this nutrient-filled anti-inflammatory soup as I deal with my challenging battle with fibromyalgia. I’ve been on a strict anti-inflammatory diet for almost a year now. In conjunction with medication and yoga, it is the treatment that consistently works for me.
Beef bone broth is a highly nutritious base ingredient that elevates this Ukrainian borscht recipe to the utmost of health benefits. Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals needed to build and strengthen our bones. Connective tissue provides glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilage that support joint health. Marrow is filled with vitamin A, vitamin K2, zinc, iron, boron, manganese and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Bones also contain protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids. It is really important that the bones are sourced from a reputable organic, non-GMO supplier as whatever the animal ate will be passed on to the broth. I get my bones frozen from the Whole Foods butcher.
Bone Broth Recipe – yields 4 Quarts
2 lbs beef bones
4 quarts filtered water or enough to cover bones in a 6-Quart oven-proof stock pot (I use an All-Clad)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 whole yellow onion, peeled
1 whole carrot, peeled
1 celery stalk
1 bay leaf
6 whole peppercorns
Defrost beef bones, if purchased frozen, in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 250° F. Place bones, water and apple cider vinegar into an oven-proof stock pot. Bring to a boil, skim particles off the top. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cover with lid and simmer in the oven for 8-10 hours. Strain using a Chinois or a fine mesh strainer. Reserve for 4-5 days refrigerated or a month frozen. I recommend making the bone broth one day before the borscht.
Borscht Recipe – serves 6
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise
3 carrots, peeled and julienned (cut into 1/8” matchsticks)
3 beets, peeled and julienned
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp tomato paste
8 cups of beef bone broth
½ cabbage, shredded thin
4 Tbsp white vinegar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish (optional)
Chopped chives or dill (optional)
Using a 6-quart All-Clad stock pot sweat the onions seasoned with salt on medium heat in olive oil till translucent. Add carrots and beets. Continue to sweat for another 5 minutes while stirring. Add garlic. Add tomato paste. Cook while stirring till paste turns orange-brown (another 5 minutes). Add bone broth. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or till the cabbage is cooked through. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream and chive garnish and gluten-free dark bread.