2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-2 1/2 lbs. beef for stew, cut into bite-sized pieces
3-32 oz. cans/boxes beef broth
32 oz. water
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 medium beets, peeled and cubed
2 large carrots, diced
1 rib celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 green pepper, diced
1 lb. saurerkraut (can or bag) drained
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, juice included
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds (optional)
Sour cream and dill for garnish
Salt and pepper beef. In heavy bottom pan, heat vegetable oil until the first wisp of smoke rises. Add beef cubes in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and cause the beef to steam. Brown quickly on all sides and transfer to a bowl. Once beef is removed from pan, add onions, celery, peppers and carrots. Stir to combine and sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add vegetables to bowl with beef.
Increase heat under pan and deglaze pan with 1 cup of the water.
Transfer beef, vegetables and deglazing liquid to large stock pot. Add remaining water, beef broth, tomatoes, beets and sauerkraut. Stir to combine.
Add in red wine vinegar, honey, thyme, brown sugar and caraway seeds (optional). Add about a Tbsp. of salt and several grinds of fresh cracked black pepper. Bring soup to a strong simmer, then lower to slow simmer and cover. Simmer for 2 hours or until beef is very tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and dill, your favorite bread (preferably slathered with a bit of butter!)