Ukrainian Red Beet Borscht

Thankfully, many years before my Grandmother passed away, I had the opportunity to watch her way of cooking this sweet, bright magenta soup first hand. Often cited as the Ukraine for it’s origin, (I think I’m bias ;) although it’s had it’s roots in most parts of eastern Europe. (no pun intended) Borscht, is slavic for borschevik or hogweed. What was originally used when making this hearty soup.

I commonly squished my face in disgust to this swampy looking vegetable soup as a child. This was before of course, I matured my palate and realized this stuff was pure goodness. 30 years of gathering with my Father’s large and ever-growing family on Christmas eve, at a dining room table (usually in an U or T shape to accommodate everyone). All this to enjoy and savor this once-a-year, 5-course Ukrainian meal. Two soups, a porridge, 2 varieties of cabbage rolls and perogies among other aperitifs and dessert treats. An experience to say the least, I think there’s butter in EVERY dish! A thick and fattening meal that leaves you wanting more while resenting what you already consumed!

The borscht soup I enjoyed cooking with my grandmother, is as authentic as she remembered learning from her mother - which I’m sure has been tweaked over the years. Her version contains a LOT of butter, oh and cream, lot’s of that as well! However, the authenticity and color of borscht is truly determined by the ingredients that go into making it. An true borscht recipe would ask for onions, beets, butter, carrots, beans, potatoes, dill, cream and lemon for balancing. Possibly cabbage and different varieties of meats are also commonly used.

Beets are a pure source of folic acid, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium. Medicinally used for disorders of the liver - stimulating to the detoxification process. Betacyanin a cancer-flighting agent, gives them their bright pink pigment. (Murray,2005)


  • prep time

    25 minutes
  • cook time

    2-4 hours
  • yields

    five 16 oz. mason jars (maybe more depending on how long you cook it for)
  • inspired by

    My Grandmother’s traditional borscht
  • Night before

    Soak the dill weed by covering with the water and bring it to a boil before cooking.

Prep

  • one
    bunch dill (plus more for garnish)
  • two cups
    water for dill
  • five
    onions, or 6 cups diced and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups
    unsalted butter or ghee, divided
  • 1/2 cups
    olive oil
  • 3 tsp
    sea salt, divided
  • two
    large sweet potatoes, quartered
  • three
    beets, cleaned, peeled and quartered
  • one
    chili pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp
    ground pepper
  • two
    carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 10 oz.
    green beans, chopped into 1” pieces (about 11/2 cups)
  • 2 cups
    vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cups
    lemon, juiced
  • 10 oz.
    cremé fraîche
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Method

  1. Add 1 cup of the butter, olive oil and 5 cups onions and 1 tsp salt to a large pot and sauté slowly on medium heat until clear 10 minutes. Turn down to medium-low for another 15 minutes, it will increase in liquid almost by half when finished - pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Food process each separately, sweet potatoes, beets then remaining onions.
  3. In another pot, add potatoes and cover with water by 1” - add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, turn off heat strain and reserve water.
  4. In the first large pot, add the remaining butter and the beets and salt and pepper. Stir to combine until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the potatoes and reserved potato water (add more water if neccessary), dill liquid, beans, carrots, chili pepper, stock, lemon juice and 1 cup of the reserved butter and onions mixture. Bring to a boil, very slowly over medium heat.
  6. Cover and turn down to a low simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occationally or until desired tenderness is reached on vegetables. They should be slightly squishy.
  7. To serve, remove from heat and stir in creme fraîche to create a bright pink hue. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

  • Sources: (1) Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005. 164-65. Print.
  • Seasonal Leek & Cauliflower Soup

    I had a friend over the other night for dinner, we cooked up some fresh zucchinni salad with tender sweet pork ribs. Very tasty indeed! While we didn’t have any leftovers of that good stuff. She did leave a head of cauliflower. I thought it would be nice and nourishing in a soup with a leek I got at the market the other day. It was surprisingly good! I’ve made a cauliflower soup in the past that tasted “really” healthy, like dirt healthy. This one has much more flavor and a sweet and smooth texture. I love the soft yellow colour it has after being blended. Serve it up with a salad or thin crust pizza or just by itself for a light lunch.


    • yields

      Approximately two 16 oz Mason Jars
    • prep time

      15 minutes
    • cook time

      15 - 20 minutes

    Prep

    • one head
      cauliflower, chopped roughly
    • one
      leek, chopped
    • two stalks
      celery, chopped
    • 2 Tbs
      coconut oil
    • two
      bay leaves
    • 3 tsp
      dried thyme
    • 32 oz.
      organic vegetable stock
    • 3 cups
      water
    • one
    • sea salt & pepper to taste

    1. In a large ceramic pot, add coconut oil and heat for about 30 seconds.
    2. Add in leeks and celery. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
    3. Add boullion cube, cauliflower, bay leaves, thyme and the vegetable stock (if I don’t have any homemade stock on hand, I’ve found Pacifico is reasonably priced and has a good balanced flavor - plus you can buy it organic).
    4. Bring this up to a boil, turn down to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves.
    6. Using an immersion blender, set on low. Pureé soup until it has reached a consistency you like. Feel free to add a bit of water if you find it too thick.

    A Process of Elimination - Mega Veggie Sandwich

    prepare

    • 2 slices
      gluten-free bread
    • 2 spears
      romain lettuce
    • 2 slices
      plum tomato
    • 4 slices
      cucumber
    • 1 tbsp
      grated carrot
    • 1 tbsp
      almond butter
    • 2 tbsp
      hummus
    • 1 tbsp
      diced celery
    1. Toast bread and butter.
    2. Spread almond butter on 1 slice and hummus on the other.
    3. Place lettuce on the hummus, then cucumber, then carrots and celery, then tomatoes.
    4. Cover with other slice and serve.

    Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie

    image

    I’ve started taking a high quality omega fatty acid DHA 3·6·9 Blend to improve memory and cognitive strength (I know I need that!). Although, I’m not a fan of the taste - adding it to this smoothie disguised the flavor entirely. Enjoy!
    Have some ice cubes prepared beforehand.


    • makes

      two full glasses
    • prep time

      15 minutes
    • cook time

      5 minutes
    • inspired by

      tara stiles

    measure out

    • two cups
      organic strawberries quartered
    • 1 cup
      ice
    • 1/2 cup
      oats
    • 1 cup
      cashews
    • 1 cup
      almond milk
    • 1/2 tsp
      cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp
      nutmeg
    • two tbsp
      maple syrup
    • 1/2 tsp
      vanilla
    1. Add almond milk in with the strawberries and ice into a blender.
    2. Pulse for a bit until it combines.
    3. Add in remaining ingredients and more milk if needed.
    4. Pour into two tall glasses and enjoy!

    Yummy Yam Soup

    image

    I made this soup from The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook. A great source for wholesome recipes based on the principals of Ayurvedic cooking. A sweet, rich and nutritious soup. Perfect for those cold winter nights - it’s warming qualities of cinnamon and clove are super comforting.


    measure

    • 2 tbsp
      ghee or butter
    • 2 tbsp
      olive oil
    • 3/4 cup
      onions sliced
    • two
      garlic cloves
    • 6 cups
      yams cubed
    • five cups
      vegetable broth
    • 1/2 tsp
      salt or to taste
    • one
      cinnamon stick
    • one
      clove
    • two
      whole peppercorns
    • 1/4 tsp
      turmeric
    1. In a large pot, heat ghee/butter and oil. Add onions, sauté until they start to soften.
    2. Add garlic. Continue sautéing until the onions are transparent.
    3. Add in remaining ingredients.
    4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20min.
    5. Check seasoning. Remove cinnamon stick, peppercorns and clove.
    6. Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth. Check consistency, if the soup is too thick add more water.

    Top with plain yogurt and serve with a fresh slice of bread.