Variations of this recipe have been passed down for many generations in my family. The cabbage, dill, potatoes and tomatoes seem to be what defines this type of borscht, while the fennel, leek, and carrots add just that extra something.
The chicken makes it a more satisfying meal, but it can be omitted (as it was often done when there was no meat to be had), and the soup can be served as a side, or a light lunch. Traditionally, it would have been served with bread, but I would rather my kids fill up on the soup itself, so I try to make it as hearty as possible.
This is one of my favorite winter soups to make, and one we eat often. It is loaded with veggies my kids might otherwise frown on, like cabbage, fennel and leeks. Here, they are tender, and their flavors are mellow; combined with the tomato and dill, it creates a truly unique combination.
Cabbage Borscht with Fennel and Dill
(A Grow. Cook. Eat. Share. family recipe)
6-8 litres or quarts, homemade chicken stock
3 cups crushed tomatoes or unseasoned tomato sauce
1/2 large green cabbage, finely chopped
6 large yellow or white flesh, or 12 new, potatoes, (peeled if necessary) and cut into small cubes
2-3 medium carrots, grated
1 fennel bulb (fronds included if desired), finely chopped
1 large leek (white part only), halved and finely sliced
1 large bunch baby dill (approx. 1/2 cup), minced
3 teaspoons (plus more to taste), salt
2 teaspoons (plus more to taste), pepper
In a large stock pot, add the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, and add the cabbage, carrots, fennel, and leek, and reduce to a simmer.
Allow to simmer for 1-2 hours.
Add cubed potatoes and continue to simmer for another 15-30 minutes.
Add the dill, and simmer for 15 minutes more.
Add salt and pepper, and taste, adjusting seasoning as necessary.
Reduce to low to keep soup warm until ready to serve.
Makes 10-12 servings.