Ukrainian borscht with caraway dumplings

Ukrainian borscht with caraway dumplings (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / August 27, 2012)

Borscht. It may not sound romantic but when well made, few dishes can be as seductive. Clean and earthy and economical, this soup delivers a savory and satisfying meal.

On a wintery afternoon, this soup is well worth the endeavor.

Ukrainian borscht with caraway dumplings

Total time: 3 hours
Servings: 12

Note: Garnish each serving of the soup with a little sour cream and a sprinkling of dill. Kvass, a fermented beverage, is usually available at Central and Eastern European markets.

2 pounds beef short ribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
8 cups water, more if needed
2 turnips, cut to ½-inch cubes
2 carrots, diced
1/3 cup tomato juice
3/4 cup kvass