nourish: vegetarian borscht
Way back in the day, before motherhood took over, I used to share a lot of recipes and other things. This one has been requested many times over the years. It’s my favourite soup and most cherished recipe. I shared this nearly 9 years ago on this very blog! I’ve revamped and updated it a teeny bit.
This is not an all day activity. It’s ruby in colour and turns a delightful magenta when mixed with sour cream. It’s fairly easy and slightly sweet and satisfying.
If you’re anything like me, you love food history, so I did a little research on borscht.
“When and where this rudimentary beet sour was first used to make borscht cannot be known. There are plenty of legends. Some say that the earliest versions of ‘red borscht’ were made by hungry Don Cossacks during Peter the Great’s unsuccessful siege of Azov in 1695. Others claim that it was a group of starving Zaphorozhian Cossacks from the Dneiper Rapids who came up with the idea during the siege of Vienna in 1683. But there is probably little truth in either. Most likely, beetroot borscht was made by ethnic Ukrainians living under Russian rule east of the Dneiper in the late 17th or early 18th century.
Their method was relatively simple. Once the beet sour had been prepared, it was diluted with water, then put into a clay pot and brought to the boil. When it was bubbling away, sliced beetroot, cabbage and carrots were thrown in – along with any other vegetables that were to hand. Bone broth was then added, perhaps with a small amount of pork, beef, or chicken. A cold version was also developed. To a base of cold beet sour was added a host of raw vegetables, such as dill, spring onions, parsley and garlic. In some regions, such as Lithuania, ‘kefir’ (a fermented milk product) or sour cream was also included, along with boiled eggs.”
(inspired by Moosewood)
- 2 1/2 cups peeled, cubed beets
- 1 large white potato, cubed
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 4 cups organic vegetable broth and 1 cup (or more) of water
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (white and red)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2-3 tbsp. butter
- 3-4 cups chopped white cabbage
- Lots of cracked black pepper and salt to taste (depending on if your butter is salted and your preference–you want the cabbage to be delicious on it’s own).
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- Coarse salt and pepper to taste
1) Put cubed potato, beets, carrots and broth in a large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender (about 20 minutes)
2) Meanwhile, melt the butter and add chopped onions, caraway seeds, and salt. Toss in the celery about halfway through. Once the onions are soft and translucent, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
3) In the same pan, melt 2-3 tbsp. butter and add the chopped cabbage. Crack lots of black pepper and some salt over the cabbage. Stir until soft and buttery.
4) Add cabbage to the beet and potato mixture. Add the onion mixture as well. Stir it up.
5) In the pot, add the dried dill, apple cider vinegar, sugar and crushed tomatoes. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Add the fresh dill. Cook for another 10 minutes on low. You can stew and simmer borscht for quite some time. It won’t get overly soggy, but do keep an eye on it.
Season, taste, add some more lashings of fresh dill, and top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Serve!