This method was taught to my mom by my paternal "baba" so that her son wouldn't starve after they married. My Ukrainian husband has taken a liking to it and with some compromises we've decided this is the best way. It is different than any other method of making this soup than I've ever seen. It is also very - very good! The list of ingredients is daunting, but the procedure is simple, especially if you don't mind a bit of chopping!
- 1 large pork hock, split
- 6 cups water (or more)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons seasoning salt (to taste)
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pepper (to taste)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 cup green beans, chopped
- 1 large potato, chopped
- 4 large dark red beets, sliced as below
- 2 medium dark red beets, grated
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups beet leaves, chopped
- 1 cup sweet peas
- 1⁄2 cup fresh dill (or to taste)
- 1⁄2-1 teaspoon citric acid or 1 medium citric acid, rock
- sour cream or heavy cream
- chopped fresh dill
- Place pork hocks in a stock pot and cover with 6 cups cold water (or enough to really cover them. Cover and place over fire until the hocks come to a boil.
- While this is coming to a boil, chop your onions, celery, carrots and beans.
- When the pot has boiled there will be a lot of foam at the top of the pot, Pour everything out and rinse the pot and meat well, then move to step 4. This is so that you don't have floaty things in the soup later (personally I often miss this step and don't mind the results at all). If you decide to miss cleaning everything just move straight to step 4 right away. Otherwise, you need to add 6 cups (or more, you need enough to cover them) clean cold water before step 4.
- Add the garlic, seasonings and the chopped vegetables.
- Bring the pot back to a boil, turn down and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the pork hock is loosened and tender.
- Remove the pork hock from the pot and cool. Return the stock to the fire and continue simmering until you've moved to the next step. While the pork hock is cooling, chop the potato and prepare the first four beets.
- To prepare the beets, peel them, cut them lengthwise in half (through the stem and top), turn cut side down and slice into 1/8" thin slices across the width of the beet. Lay the slices down and cut these into 1'8" slices across the width of the beet. This method gives the prettiest presentation.
- Add the potato to the pot and return the soup to a slow boil, then add the beet slices. DO NOT LET THE SOUP BOIL ONCE THE BEETS ARE ADDED OR IT WILL LOSE IT'S COLOR.
- While this is coming up to heat, clean the pork hock and return them to the pot. Make sure to get all the ugly bits and fat, but leave the meat as whole as you can, better to shred it in you bowl! Trust me!
- Leave this to simmer very slowly until the potato is cooked and the beets are tender. Meanwhile, chop the beet stalks (if they are tender) and the leaves; and peel and grate the final 2 beets.
- Add the peas and tops/leaves to the pot. When the peas are cooked add the grated beets (this is more to thicken the soup and add back any color that may have been lost before; and also DH loves the addition of shredded beat to this cause that's the way his mom made borscht). Continue to cook VERY SLOWLY.
- Once everything is tender you can finally add the dill and 1/2 teaspoon of sour salt. Tasting is important here, I usually add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sour salt myself, but I prefer it a bit sour.
- I taste all the way through because I love the way the flavor builds, but it is very important at the end. Adjust the dill, salt and sour salt carefully, with some practice you'll find a soup that everyone loves.
- Add more water if this soup begins looking dry, but it is a thick soup so doesn't require a lot of broth - cream will be added at the table.
- You can park the soup overnight in the fridge and remove all the fat that rises the next day. This soup is excellent on day 1 but even better day 2, and healthier when the fat is removed.
- The broth shouldn't be sweet (the sweetness will happen with every bite) and it should have a bit of a sour tang (I like mine quite sour)and a taste of dill (and quite dilly). The soup SHOULD NEVER be salty because the meat may call for some seasoning in the bowl.
- This soup is better the next day, and may be put in jars and canned (10 minutes in a water bath) or frozen (but I find the beans go off when it's frozen so would leave them out in this case).
- Add sour cream or whipped cream at the table as a garnish. More fresh dill is pretty and tasty as well.
- Ask my friend Katlin - he loves this soup!