Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My favourite beetroot soup, vegetarian borscht

October 2011

Here is one of my very favourite soups of all time, which I make about once a month (at least!). It's a vegetarian version of the famous Russian-Ukrainian beet soup, borscht. My version is delicious and heartwarming - brilliant for cold autumn days and dark winter nights. Yet it's light and refreshing enough, so it would also be good during summer. I tend to use sauerkraut during winter and plain white cabbage during summer (and prefer the first one).

Depending how good your knife-skills are, but it could be on your table in about 40 minutes or even less. I use the food processor to shred (or 'julienne') the vegetables.

My favorite beet soup
(Mõnus peedisupp, täitsa lihavaba)
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course

September 2007

400-500 g (about a pound) of beets
2 medium onions
2 large carrots
400-500 g (about a pound) white cabbage or mild sauerkraut
2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

sour cream, to serve

finely chopped parsley or dill, to garnish

Peel the beets, onions and carrots. Cut all vegetables into thick matchsticks (you can use a food processor here to speed up the process). If using fresh cabbage, shred it thinly.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add carrots, beets, onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add the shredded cabbage or sauerkraut, then pour in the hot stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer on a low heat for about 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice, keeping in mind that a proper borscht should have a slightly acidic taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or omit, if you want a vegan soup) and sprinkle with some chopped parsley or dill.
Serve with some crusty (rye) bread.

UPDATE 21.9.2007
Hedgehog made this soup, too - check out her post here.

NOTE: This soup recipe was originally posted in September 2007. It's been fully revised and updated in November 2011.


K and S said...

mmm this sounds wonderful!

ScienceMel said...

Q? I'm not a huge fan of beetroot. Are there other veggies which might do the trick?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My husband, the beet lover, will be delighted when I show him this recipe!

Alanna Kellogg said...

Simply glorious, Pille, simple AND glorious. I love it when borscht has texture and isn't just a muddy mess. This is oh-so-similar to the 'Karelian Borscht' that I've made ever since living in Finland.

Hedgehog said...

I'm going to make this tonight! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Saffron said...

Hi Pille! I'm so curious! I've never eaten Borsch and I think your recipe sounds good!I'll try it!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I never found your blog before, but I'm really happy to have it now. And I LOVE beets, so I'll be trying this soon for sure, as soon as it cools off a bit here.

lobstersquad said...

you know, I´ve never takcled a real, live raw beetroot in my life...time to begin? I don´t know if I´ll find them in the market, but if not, I´ll make do with the boiled kind. it´s still hot here but I´m bored of summer.

Anonymous said...

That looks brilliant Pille! You really are my beetroot inspiration :)

Congratulations on the Culinate interview! Heading there right now!

Nyura said...

I've just discovered your blog, and now I have to wait all day to go home and start cooking. Drats! Maybe I'll break down and make a chunky borshch. I make one very similar to this one (also veggie), but I like to whiz it in the blender for a smoother texture. http://silkroadcaravan.blogspot.com/2007/02/cheerfully-heretical-borshch.html
or maybe I'll try the cheese & spinach pie.

Thanks for all the inspiration!

ggop said...

I love that you are posting vegetarian recipes. Yumm photos..

Anonymous said...

you know, I love beets, and I love borscht, and yet I've never made my own. Thanks for reminding me I should try my hand at this sometime soon!

Dagmar said...

I just loooove borscht (or barszcz as it's called in Polish) and your look lovely. I do mine a bit different though. I'll most likely cook it during the cold autumn and then I'll post about it.

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

It was meant to be! My farm-share just delivered lots of beets, carrots, and cabbage. I will let you know how it turns out. Don't you love these moments of harmonic blogging convegence?

Shaun said...

Pille - What a perfect picture of low blood pressure-inducing goodness. I love the idea of this borsch, a vegetarian one. This is perfect for those days when one just cannot handle any more meat (and I'm finding that I have more of those days than I used to). I'm glad you didn't do away with the sour cream...

Pille said...

K&S - thanks!

ScienceMel - yes and no. The 'Yes' bit: basically, it's a vegetable soup. Get a good stock (avoid any of the regular stock cubes, Marigold is really good and widely available in Edinburgh) and use any root veg you wish instead of beetroot. Parsnip might work, or celery (though not as much, as celeriac is more potent flavourwise). The 'No' bit: borsch is a beetroot soup, by definition:) Beetroot has a lovely earthy and sweet flavour, plus it gives the soup this most brilliant colour!! I suggest you give beetroot a go:)

Lydia - was he pleased?

Alanna - thank you! There are probably hundreds of different borsch recipes out there! Your Karelian borscht sounds wonderful, too!

Hedgehog - I'm happy you kept your word :)

Saffron - do give borsch a go - this vegetarian version is particularly light and easy-to-like!

Abra - who knows, maybe we can cook it together in France later this year??

Lobstersquad - and I've never takcled a real, live lobster in my life;) I do hope you'll find beetroot at the market (there must be! I've got a Spanish cookbook that contains beetroot recipes!), and can make this - _if_ the weather cools down!

Joey - thank you! (Twice:)

Nyura - your borshch recipe is quite similar (but trust me, vegetarian bouillon works just as well - at least when you use a good one!)

Ggop - although we're not vegetarians, we do not eat meat so often, so vegetarian food features heavily in our kitchen. And trust me, all the good & successful ones end up here on the blog!

Ann - you should try it soon!!

Dagmar - I'll be waiting for your barszcz post!

The chocolate lady - yes, those harmonious blogging moments are great:)

Shaun - it's hard to do away with sour cream -it's such a perfect garnish for many of the chunky soups we eat over here..

Tim said...

Lovely soup! I ended up adding some sauerkraut as well and as garnish, which added a nice flavor (I suppose sort of a similar idea to sour cream in a way, since both get their sourness from lactic acid...)

Anonymous said...

I love beets. And borscht. I'm trying this one for sure!

Zak said...

What's the obsession with Marigold instant stock? It's not the way to go. Look what's in it. We have to reject it.

Love barszcz z uszkami. Love it. . .

Pille said...

Zak - if I've got to choose between a regular supermarket stock cube (Maggi, Knorr, Gallia Blanca or any Polish equivalents, etc) and Marigold Bouillon powder, then the last one is definitely a better option. (And yes, I've read what's in there:)
If you're averse to the idea, just use plain water - plenty of flavour in the soup anyway!
Thanks for commenting!

Zak said...

Pille, don't use any of them! They must all be renounced! You owe it to yourself. Look at all these acolytes you have. You could be blazing that trail for them. How you could be remembered in years to come. . .

The 'plain water' idea is always very seductive, isn't it. But how many times is it really the answer? I too was once a Marigold user. No-one says coming off it is easy.

And do you really like the prunes in the cock-a-leekie? I mean, honestly? Yes, I know they are meant to be traditional. But when I was toty my granny used to make this soup all the time - and she would have been mortified at the idea of putting prunes in it. She also used nearly the whole 'flag' (green part) of the leek as well - for colour, as well as flavour. It gave the soup a certain gutsiness. And I always liked the way these green bits would always stick to the side of the soup plate, and therefore would be the last bits I ate.

Difficult, I reckon, to make this soup without a decent chook. Most chickens on sale in Scotland are dire. Boiling fowls of course can still be bought in certain places - but what of their provenance?

Oh the agonies.

LisAway said...

I found this recipe months ago and make it often. We love it! Thanks for the recipe,and sorry I didn't sound off sooner!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille -

We made this tonight (in the middle of winter), and it came out very nicely! Your recipe was simpler than some others I came across on the Web - much appreciated by a kitchen novice like myself. And I liked that it was vegetarian - as you know, there's not much Estonian cuisine that fits that description! Thanks!

farida said...

Borsh is one of my varorite soups. İ love your vegetarian version a lot! And the color is just the way I like my borsch:) Cheers!

Marisa said...

Thanks for a great recipe! I tried this tonight and it was better than I could've ever thought.

Check my post out here --> http://thecreativepot.blogspot.com/2009/08/borscht.html

Aiva said...

Else we add to the borsch potato or beans, and celery. When it is ready add garlic (via garlic press) and sprinkle with fresh cut dill. Let borsch to stay for 20-30 minutes and then serve. In general, the borsch is like a good wine it is testier when it is old. You can keep it in the refrigerator for several days and each time it will be testier.:)

Cat Lady said...

Yummy yummy!!!

Pene said...

Why are you referring to 'a pound' of beetroot & cabbage? Please keep measurements in metric.

Ikkin-bot said...

I just made your recipe. it was perfect exactly what I wanted!

Justyna Herbut said...

I love beetroot soup :)

melissa said...

It's the only soup I wanna eat this week. Had it for 2 nights last week and now hubby making again. My favorite is to blend it really well and chill it. Awesome!!! Thanks! Great for breakfast too. Yes, I am addicted right now. :)