The funny thing is that one of my kids is Russian by birth and he doesn't like this soup at all. The rest of us love it. I make it several times a year, in hot or cold weather.
1 to 3 lbs. bone-in beef shank (depends on how meaty you want it - I use 1 lb.)
1 onion, chopped
6 c. water
1/2 lb. carrots, cut into bite-size pieces (I use baby carrots)
2-4 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 medium head cabbage, shredded (I use half a package of shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix)
1 lb. beets, peeled and shredded or julienned
1 c. tomato juice (one of the pop can sizes of juice works perfectly)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. white sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
In a large pot, add beef, onion and water. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Watch this as I've often needed to add additional water. Remove meat and let cool, then cut meat into bite size pieces. If you want to defat the broth, set in fridge overnight then lift the fat off. When ready to cook, stir remaining ingredients into broth; add more water if needed to come just to the top of the veggies. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add meat and heat through. Serve with sour cream.
This makes great leftovers and can sit in the fridge for days without getting all mushy. Do wear an apron when you're working with beets as they have a nasty habit of staining clothes, and hands!
To make this dairy-free, don't add the sour cream.