Vegetarian Red Borscht (Beet Soup)

Your weekly grocery bags often include beets, so we offer this simple and delicious recipe for classic Borscht, or beet soup. Packed with essential nutrients, beets are one of the healthiest root vegetables and are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. They are known to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increase exercise performance.

Borscht is a traditional soup hailing from Russia and Eastern Europe. It wouldn’t be borscht without beets and some kind of souring ingredient such as wine vinegar or lemon juice. It almost always has shredded cabbage, too. Beyond that, ingredients can vary widely with the addition of beans among many other ingredients. Since we often include carrots and potatoes in your weekly bags, the addition of these two ingredients and some vegetable stock make this recipe delicious and healthy.

Borscht will also brighten your mood since beets have an earthy sweetness (and a vibrant color). A dash of lemon juice and fresh dill add a hint of freshness.

Vegetarian Red Borscht

Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 cup diced celery
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 pound Yukon Gold or other starchy potatoes (4-6 medium potatoes), peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 pound medium beets (about 2-3 large beets, or up to 6 regular beets), peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
½ pound medium carrots (about 4 carrots), peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
3 cups of beet greens (if available), or chopped kale or Swiss Chard
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar, or to taste

Optional ingredients if you have them:
1 large leek, diced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

Optional: Horseradish cream:

2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 cup crème fraîche or thick sour cream
Dill, parsley, tarragon and chives, for garnish

Preparation

STEP 1

Put olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

STEP 2

When oil is hot, add onion, celery and leek, stir to coat, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring, until onion has softened and just begun to brown.
Add garlic, tomato paste, paprika, caraway, bay leaf and thyme, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

STEP 3

Add potatoes, beets and carrots, 6 cups water and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a brisk simmer. Simmer with lid ajar for 20 minutes, or until potatoes, beets and carrots are fork tender.

STEP 4

Add kale and vinegar, and stir to distribute.
Taste broth and adjust seasoning. Simmer until kale is done, about 6-8 minutes.

STEP 5 (Optional)

Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream: Put horseradish, lemon juice, salt and sugar in a small bowl.
Let macerate 5 minutes, then stir in crème fraîche or sour cream.

STEP 6

To serve, ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chopped dill, parsley, tarragon and chives. Pass the horseradish cream at the table.

Excerpted from the New York Times