It’s a Saturday in January at the Port Angeles Farmers Market and I am looking for dinner.  Some might say there’s not much left at this time of year, but I say that the winter market has its own season with plenty of produce and other locally grown foods that are delicious and chock full of what’s good you.  Beets, cabbage, winter squash, carrots, Brussels sprouts, leeks, garlic, potatoes, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes and new baby spinach and salad greens.  And of course all the grains, meat, fish and eggs that you need to round out your meals.  We are lucky to have access to this bounty year round.

So many options that I came home with ingredients for several meals.  My all time favorite for mid-winter stews is this recipe for Borscht.  I originally learned this recipe after I married into a Jewish family and it seemed like something I should know. But over the years it has become one of my winter favorites. In part because of the delicious rich flavor, but in addition this soup is the most beautiful color of purple you will ever see in a bowl.

Russian Borscht     adapted from the NY Times Cookbook 1961 Edition

Takes about an hour and a half counting the simmering time.

Serves 4.


1 pound stew meat with bones if available

1 ½ quarts water

1 Tbs salt

1 ½ cups shredded beets

¾ cups shredded carrots

¾ cup shredded turnip or rutabaga

½ head cabbage shredded

1 medium onion, or the equivalent in leeks, chopped

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp sugar or honey if needed

2 Tbs butter

freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

sour cream


1. Start by trimming the meat if necessary. In a heavy soup pot (my favorite is a cast iron dutch oven), heat vegetable oil and brown the meat. Add water and salt and simmer gently until tender, or about 1 hour.  Remove the bones at this point.

2. Meanwhile melt the butter in a separate pot.  Saute the onions or leeks, beets, carrots, turnips. Add the tomato paste, and vinegar and simmer with a cover for 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the cabbage and cook ten minutes longer.

3. Add vegetable mixture, pepper and bay leaves to the meat and broth. Adjust seasonings, and add sweetener if needed.  Cook until vegetables are tender. Add more water or vinegar, if desired.

4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired.