I think this borscht has a nice balance of flavours. Garnished with the traditional sour cream and fresh dill, the presentation is absolutely gorgeous. Yield is 10 servings.
Wrap the bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seeds, parsley, thyme sprigs and garlic in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it securely with a piece of string. This is called a bouquet garni.
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.
Add potatoes, cabbage and onion and saute until cabbage softens, about 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, bouquet garni, beets, tomatoes and apple.
Bring soup to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the bouquet garni.
Puree 4 cups of the soup in a blender and return to the pot so that the soup will still be chunky.
If desired, thin soup with more vegetable stock.
Add rice wine vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls.
Top with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill.