COMFORT FOOD: Sour Red Cabbage and Beet Soup

In Adventure, Alaska Travelgram, Book Review, Lodging, Travel Stories by scott

NOTE: On the phone with Kirsten Dixon the other day, we were talking about memories of my last visit to Winterlake Lodge… and her new cookbook “Living Within The Wild”. I asked her if she and Mandy would like to share a “Comfort Food” recipe for our Alaska winter. Here you go. –Scott

Winterlake Lodge, in the heart of the Alaska Range

Amidst a rugged and scenic backdrop, the Dixon family has been living in Alaska’s backcountry for over thirty years, sharing their love of adventure and cooking with travelers from around the world.

Written by chefs Kirsten and her daughter Mandy Dixon, this book features an intimate view into the lives of a family who took the path less traveled. The Dixons have assembled over 100 original recipes, accompanied by insights into their adventurous lives, along with photographs, to tell their story.

This recipe collection weaves through the Dixons’ culinary day, from early-morning pastries to bar appetizers to late-night bonfire celebrations. From the first fish caught in the springtime to hearty stews served in the depth of a snowy winter, this cookbook also illustrates the dramatic seasonal changes in the lives of the Dixon kitchens.  

Kirsten and Mandy offer recipes that highlight their own seaside garden and wilderness greenhouse along the Iditarod Trail, their love of wild foraged ocean and woodland edibles, and locally sourced seafood and produce from fisher and farmer friends.

Through elegant prose and unique recipes, Kirsten and Mandy invite you to their table to share with you their lives of adventure, good food, and the deep purpose and meaning they have found living within the wild.

Photo by Ash Adams (used with permission)

Sour Red Cabbage and Beet Soup

This is a favorite winter soup that is beautiful in color. We think that it matches our beautiful Alaskan skies, trees, and even the moody water as we begin the transition from summer to winter. We love oxtails in a soup as they add a particular sheen and gelatinous texture to this version of a Russian borscht. Ask for oxtails at your local butcher.

-4 red beets
-Canola oil
-Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 1 pound oxtails
– 6 small red potatoes, quartered
– 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
– 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1/2 red onion, diced
– 1 pound roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
– 1/4 pound domestic mushrooms, stemmed
– 1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded
– 6 cups store-bought or homemade beef stock
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 5 pitted prunes, diced
– 1/2 cup sour cream 

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Rub the beets in oil and then season lightly with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets individually with aluminum foil and bake until they are soft, and the skin comes away easily, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Season the oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper. In a 6-quart casserole over high heat, warm 3 tablespoons canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the oxtails and sear until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the oxtails from the pan and set aside. Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil in the same pot. Add the potatoes, carrot, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and the oxtails to the pot. Pour in the beef stock. Turn the heat up to medium-high, bring the liquid just to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat so that the liquid just simmers. Simmer the soup until the meat falls off the bones of the oxtails, about 2.5-3 hours. 

Remove the meat from the oxtail bones and flake the meat with a fork. Discard the bones.

Peel the beets and cut them into dice. In a small bowl, combine the beets and lemon juice and toss well. Add the beets and juice to the soup along with the prunes. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes to heat through. Stir in the sour cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

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