Sweet-and-sour flavors are as prevalent in Eastern European Jewish cooking as they are in Chinese. The caraway seeds are also extremely popular; my former husband, who was from Czechoslovakia, ate them like candy! The sourness is often achieved with citric acid–also called sour salt–which is sold in supermarkets and pharmacies. Use the white crystals sparingly, as they have a very strong flavor.
The technique of pureeing the vegetables and returning them to the soup is very typical of German (non-Jewish) cooking. To peel the tomatoes, immerse them in boiling water for a few minutes, then slip off the skins. Discard the tomato seeds while retaining as much of the juice as possible.
serves 6 to 8
1 small head green cabbage, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 pound beef top of rib or shortribs
2 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid crystals
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for Passover)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 onion, stuck with 2 cloves
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1. Shred the cabbage and put into a large soup pot or stew pot. Add the meat and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the surface to remove scum, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and continue simmering, covered, for 2 hours.
3. Remove the meat from the pot and strain the soup, discarding the cloves. Skim the surface of the soup with a paper towel to remove excess fat. Bone the meat if you have used shortribs. Discard any fat.
4. Puree the vegetables in a food processor or blender. Add pureed vegetables and meat to soup and reheat before serving. Alternately, you could serve meat separately as the entree.
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