Beets are so beautiful. Just look at that fantastic red (maybe alizarin?) color they produce!
Along with my beets painting for my 2017 Vegetable Calendar, I’m happy to share this wonderful story and borscht recipe from textile artist, Susan Purney Mark. See her work and check out her workshops here.
Did you know that taste and smell are our first memories? I’m quite sure I never ate Beet Borscht as an infant, but it certainly is my first and strongest food memory of my childhood. The slightly sour taste that is complemented by the sour cream and hearty broth with the color and aroma of the soup brings back strong memories of my Mennonite grandmother. We would always have this soup in the spring for Easter and often in the fall as a harvest celebration.
—Susan Purney Mark
Susan’s Beet Borscht
1 lbs smoked ham hock (1-2 meaty hocks)
10 cups of water
1 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 – 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 – 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 large beets, peeled and chopped-save the green tops
3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
4 medium, new potatoes, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons of fresh black pepper (start with 1 teaspoon and add to taste)
2 teaspoons of salt (start with 1 teaspoon and add to taste)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, add your ham hock(s) and cover with 10 cups of water or more to cover them. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender and the bones come out. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the broth and set aside to cool. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the rind, gristle and bone and shred or cut it into bite size pieces.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat and add the chopped onion. Sauté the onion until translucent and then add the tomato paste and can of diced tomatoes. When well combined, turn off heat and set aside.
Add the shredded carrots and beets to the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the salt, pepper, dill & thyme.
Add the onion and tomato mixture along with the garlic.
Add the chopped new potatoes and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the potatoes are par boiled.
Chop the beet tops finely and add with the ham simmer another for 5 minutes, or until the tops have wilted.
Add the cider vinegar.