After my mother died, I had the enormous task of sorting through her things and emptying the condo. It took me ages before I finally sat down to go through her recipes. Like her daughter, Mama had piles of recipes she had set aside and meant to try one day. When I found this one for chicken borscht I knew I had to try it.
This chicken borscht was copied some time ago, judging from her firm penmanship. It lacks the smears and splatters that indicate a recipe has been prepared at least once.
The pinkish-red Chioggia beets at the Coronado Farmers Market looked lovely and fresh, with their candy-cane striped insides. Any kind of beet would work here, however, and I’m thinking of trying my favorite golden beets for the next batch.
I made my usual tweaks to the recipe – dicing instead of grating the beets, and using a bouquet garni instead of a bay leaf – and decided this first batch of soup in the new year would be made in my mother’s honor. I think she would have approved.
- 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (large dice)
- 1 14.5 ounce can of low sodium chopped tomatoes, including juice
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh beets, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (large dice)
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped (medium dice)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (medium dice)
- 1/4 of a medium-sized cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons low sodium tomato paste
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (small dice)
- 6 sprigs each of fresh thyme, flat-leaved parsley and fresh dill, tied together
- kosher salt and/or ground pepper
- low-fat sour cream, fresh dill sprigs (optional garnish)
1. Using a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the stock and chicken and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken and set aside.
3. Add to the stock the potatoes, tomatoes, beets, onion, cabbage, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic and herb bundle. Season with salt and/or pepper. Cover pot and cook on low for 30 minutes.
4. Cut the cooked chicken off the bone and use your fingers to shred into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the soup and simmer for 20 more minutes.
5. Remove herb bundle and discard. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill. Serve.