Ukrainian Borscht

This robust national soup of Ukraine almost qualifies as a stew. It's a bit labor-intensive but well worth the time and effort. Serve it with lots of buttered dark Russian pumpernickel.

2 smoked ham hocks

1 pound boneless chuck, rump, or bottom round,

trimmed of fat

2 beef bouillon cubes

Bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley sprigs, 8

peppercorns, crushed clove of garlic), tied in

cheesecloth

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 cup chopped celery

4 large beets, peeled and diced

3 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cups chopped canned tomatoes, with juice

1 15-ounce can white kidney beans with liquid

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Sour cream

Fresh dill

Place ham hocks and beef, bouillon cubes, bouquet garni, and chopped onion in a very large pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, skim off any froth, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2-1/2 hours.

Add carrot and celery, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove bouquet garni; add beets, cabbage, and tomatoes; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in beans with liquid, vinegar, and sugar. Remove and slice beef; discard ham hocks. Heat, adding more water if soup appears too thick. Serve in large soup bowls with slices of meat. Top with a dollop of sour cream and snips of dill.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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