Russian Gourmet: Borscht

During the course of my (long) life I have tried many variations of the beet and cabbage soup otherwise known as borscht: hot and cold, with meat or vegetarian, chopped and  shredded, home-made and not, but no one ever managed to make it better than my Mom. Now my daughter says that mine is even better than that, I guess this is just how life works. Borscht is delicious and good for you, but most importantly it’s cheap and easy to make. A word of caution: you can’t make a small amount of borscht, there will always be more than you expected.
First, assemble the ingredients: beets (I had 4 medium), 2 carrots, small or medium head of cabbage, 1 red pepper, some fresh parsley, 2 stalks of celery, 1 medium onion, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 3-4 potatoes and a can of V-8 or tomato juice.

Cut off the beet greens and discard them unless you have a pet goat or a vegetarian friend. Peel the beets.

Put the beets in a large pot half-full (half-empty?) with slightly salted water.

Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour until a knife can easily go through a cooked beet.
In the meantime, chop an onion and sauté it in a small amount of (olive) oil. While this is being done, shred carrots and chop parsley and celery.

Add all of this to the skillet with onions and continue to sauté.

Now you have time to slice the cabbage, red pepper (I used half) and cube potatoes (not too small).

When the beets are ready, remove them from the pot and set aside to cool down. Add all the vegetables and the contents of the skillet to the pot. Cook until potatoes can be cut with a spoon, about 20 minutes. When the beets are cool enough to handle, shred them and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. At this time add tomato paste and V-8. Bring to a boil and adjust the salt. You are done.
Since this borscht is virtually fat-free, a dollop of sour cream will add a bit of substance and contrast the sweetness of the beets. You can serve it cold, warm or hot and it will only get better the next day and even better after that, if you still have any left.

There are thousands of borscht recipes on the internet and every schmuck with a video camera posted one on  Youtube; I have no idea and no desire to try what they taste like, most likely they are disgusting vinegar-tasting pots of overcooked cabbage and beets. The only recipe you’ll ever need is here. Enjoy it or else!
Here is a video of the yesterday’s borscht-cooking session.