Borscht is a delicious soup made with beetroot and usually served with soured cream. Traditionally from eastern and central Europe, especially Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, it’s cheap, nourishing and extremely tasty.
A rich source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, folic acid and iron, beetroot is also said to be performance enhancing, containing nitrates which help the body use oxygen more efficiently.
We spent Christmas in Berlin with our newly married daughter and son-in-law, Fred. Fred's mother is Polish, and he treated us to a totally amazing Christmas Eve feast, Polish style. It kicked off with an amazing clear beetroot soup. This took hours to cook, the vegetables slowly cooking basically all day! Fred strained off the (very pink!) broth which we ate with some dumplings stuffed with wild mushrooms. AMAZING!
Prep 5-10 mins | Cook 30 mins | Serves 4
- 50g butter
- 1 large red onion
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
- 400g raw beetroot, peeled and diced (about 4 medium beetroots)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 200g white cabbage, shredded
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1.5 l beef stock
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 cooked beetroot, grated
- Soured cream and chopped chives or dill to serve
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft. Then add the garlic, carrot, potato, celery, caraway seeds and raw beetroot. Turn the heat down very low, cover, and leave the vegetables to ‘sweat’ for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar, stock, vinegar, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the cabbage.
- Before serving, add a little lemon juice and the grated cooked beetroot (this freshens the colour to make it a nice deep purple).
- Check for seasoning, and adjust with salt, pepper, sugar and/or lemon juice.
- You can serve the soup at this stage, without blending, or blend to a smooth puree, reheat, and serve. Either way, use warmed bowls and add a spoonful of soured cream and a scattering of chopped chives or dill. Eat with hunks of wholegrain bread.