As a child, I was always very suspicious of old world, Eastern European Ashkenazi food (that's my heritage). When I found out what kishke really is (stuffed intestines) I thought my parents were trying to trick me into eating something scary every time traditional food was served up by parents and grandparents. Also, I loved my grandma's chicken papperkash till I questioned the rich, irony flavor...I'd been tricked into eating liver, gross (I've never been much of an offal-lover)! Borscht was another Ashhkenazi delight that made me nervous. The crazy florescent purple color and the fact that it's generally made with beets made my apprehensive childhood self apprehensive. Luckily, I've come around to kishke, papperkash (sans liver) and borscht, among others. I didn't have any beets in my veggie drawer, so I opted for a southern Russian rendition made with cabbage. The characteristic sweet-and-sour flavor come from the addition of brown sugar and lemon juice at the end.
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 cups beef broth
5 cups water
28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, with juice
1 medium red cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
2-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
2-4 tbsp brown sugar, to taste
Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add broth, water, cabbage, bay leaves, tomatoes with their juice (break up tomatoes with hands to smaller pieces), salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, covered for about an hour and a half. Add lemon juice and brown sugar, starting with a lesser amount, add more to desired taste. Remove bay leaves. Serve either hot or cold, whichever you prefer.