It´s business as usual here in the north of Scotland, but for you poor folks frozen in fear at the Siberian winds, here´s a warming soup.
I learnt to make borscht from a Ukrainian. She had been eating it since infancy and making it since childhood and was full of knowledge on the subject, obviously. But also prejudice, because that is how things go. She had things to say on the borscht served in Poland and Russia that would make you readers blush.
Therefore I offer this recipe for lazy borscht safe in the knowledge that there is no such thing as the ur-borscht, unless it be the one made by your mother. My Ukrainian friend´s version, make with pork ribs and thick with several vegetables, is probably very controversial somewhere between Kiev and Vladivostok.
I, on the other hand, come from Spain, where the jury is still out on wether beets are an actual food, or simply the main ingredient in Coca-Cola; I can do what I want, and offend no ancestors.
Which is just to say: pressure cook (or boil) ox tails and whole beets, well salted, with an onion and a carrot and a stick of celery and a bay leaf. 50 minutes under pressure will do the trick.
Let the pressure come down naturally and strain the broth. Throw away the onion, carrot and celery.
Chop the beets into small pieces. Shred the meat, set aside and discard the bones.
Now season the broth, which will probably need more salt, Sherry vinegar and a glug of Sherry.
You can do a cocido madrileño game plan and serve the broth first, followed by the meat and beets, with bread and butter and dill pickles.
Or you can boil potatoes and cabbage in the broth, and mix it all in a big bumper bowl of vegetable goodness. Sour cream and chives welcomed.
You can also set aside some or all of the meat and veg and use them to fill some piroshki, little turnovers that you fry or bake (I bake).
Or you can serve the all together mix first, and then strain the leftovers. Have the consommé as is, with perhaps a little lemon juice, more Sherry and lots of black pepper, or, if it´s summer, serve it as fuchsia jelly. And toss the meat and beets and cabbage with boiled potatoes, dill pickles and parsley or chives for a gorgeous potato salad.
A win-win soup.