--Yuri Olesha, Soviet writer,"No Day Without A Line" (1965)
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A grand Russian soup of the people. J. Bahr of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, writes that it is similar to a family recipe brought from the Black Sea area--except "we add chopped dill to the soup right from the beginning as well as coarsely chopped potatoes. We add sweet or sour cream in the bowl of soup after serving (or horseradish to taste). Try it, you'll like it!" Another reader suggests cooking smoked ham hocks in the broth right from the start. Serve hot, as a meal or as a first course, to 6-8 people.
In a Dutch oven, saute the onions in butter for about 5 minutes. Stir in the beets, then add vinegar, sugar, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Pour in 1/2 cup of the stock, cover, and simmer for an hour.
Pour the rest of the stock into the soup, add the chopped cabbage, and bring to a boil. Stir in the ham and beef, parsley and bay leaf, and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped fresh dill, and serve with a bowl of whipped sour cream.