I was asked for my borscht recipe. This is loosely derived from a recipe that is really weird -- it says to throw away the beets! Both that recipe and mine are probably very unauthentic. But good.
6 cups water
3 medium size beets
2 medium size potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 stalk celery, chopped -- optional
1/2 a bell pepper, chopped (red or green) -- optional
1/3 cup butter
1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup tomatoes (fresh are best, canned or tomato paste + water is ok)
1/4 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Put water in a large pot on high heat. Add beets, potatoes, carrots, celery, and bell pepper. Cover and boil until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet. Saute onion in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove half of sauce from skillet into a medium size bowl. Add cabbage to remainder of sauce in skillet and cook covered on medium low heat, stirring occasionally for ten minutes, or until tender.
Reduce heat on pot to a simmer. Remove beets from pot and set aside to cool.
Remove quartered potatoes and add to bowl with tomato sauce. Mash potatoes, adding milk, until creamy. Stir mashed potato mixture into soup in pot.
Grate beets, removing skin if desired, or grating it in. Combine grated beets and cabbage into pot. Add vinegar to taste (optional but recommended with sweet beets). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a teaspoon of dill.
Cover and cook for at least another 5 minutes on low heat, then let it cook in its residual heat for as long as desired.
Serve hot, garnished with sour cream and dill.