1 1/2 pound soup meat
1 pound lean fresh pork
1/2 pound smoked pork
10 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
1 bunch soup greens
8 medium-sized beets
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 large onions
3 large potatoes
6 tomatoes or 1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cooked navy beans
Any kind of smoked pork is good for this soup, but the best flavor is obtained from “smoked backs”. These are inexpensive and wonderfully flavorsome, but have almost no meat on them. They can be served in the soup. If you use smoked backs, you’ll need 1 pound instead of 1/2 pound.
Put your soup meat and your two kinds of pork in a large heavy pot with the water. Bring to a boil. Skim, then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, and soup greens. The soup green should include parsley, Russian parsley, a carrot, celery, and a leek. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.
In the meantime, cook 7 beets, unpealed, till tender. Grate 1 raw beet and mix 3 tablespoons of cold water. This is to use for coloring. When the seven beets are done, peel them and cut each beet in eight pieces.
Take the meat out of the soup pot. Discard the smoked backs, if this is what you have used. If you have used a more meaty cut of smoked pork, take it out and put it aside.
Strain the soup; pour it back in the pot; add the beets, cabbage, and the onions and potatoes cut in quarters. Peel and seed the tomatoes before putting them in. Add the vinegar and sugar.
Now put all the pieces of meat. Boil up. Let simmer for one hour. Add cooked navy beans. Cut the frankfurters in thick slices. Add them to the soup 20 minutes before serving.
When you’re ready to eat, skim the excess fat from the soup. Thicken the soup with the flour browned in butter. Add the juice of the raw beet mixed with water. Salt if needed. Cut all the meat in thick slices and put back in the soup. Serve piping hot, with a bowl of sour cream on the side. Very fancy Russian gourmets add strips of cold roast duck to this borsch a few minutes before serving.