This is my version of classic borscht. It's a soup I grew up with and it's hearty and warming in the cool weather. I roast beets and garlic for depth of flavor and make it filling and satisfying with the addition of country-style pork ribs. It's a complete meal in a bowl. There is also the added benefit of vitamin and mineral-packed beets; they contain folic acid, Vitamin C and B6, and beta carotene. So eat up! —Donna
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Trim the green tops from the beets (reserve these for adding to the soup later), scrub the beets and place them in a small baking dish (lined with foil, if you like). Drizzle a little oil over the beets and add the garlic cloves, still in their skin. Cover the dish tightly and roast in the oven for about an hour, or until the beets are just tender.
Simultaneously, place the pork ribs in a small, oiled roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and roast in the oven until tender and fully cooked. When the beets, garlic, and pork are done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool a little.
In the meantime, heat the vegetable oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt, stir, and cover. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes,stirring occasionally. Add the sliced carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking until the vegetables are slightly browned around the edges. Stir in the cabbage and cook until it begins to wilt, then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for about ten more minutes. When the beets are cooled, slip off the skins and cut them into 1/2 inch dice; add to the soup. Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and mash them slightly, add to the simmering soup. Cut the pork into medium dice and add to the soup. ( If you like, you can serve the small rib ends of the pork, intact, in each bowl of soup. It's a bit messy to eat, but very good. Otherwise, just cut the meat from the bones and add it with the rest of the pork). Rinse the beet greens, stack stack up and slice them crosswise into thin ribbons. Add these greens to the soup, taste and adjust for salt, and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, adjust again for salt and pepper, and serve. Garnish each bowl with some sour cream and fresh herbs (if you have them). Serve with rustic country-style bread.