This beet soup would probably be one of the first items that pops up if you google “Russian cuisine”. However, being more of a pastry person while growing up, I skipped all the borscht hype. Eight months ago our family was invited to a Russian dinner that completely changed my attitude. A few… quite a few.. disastrous attempts later I am finally proud to present my vegetarian version of this famous Russian dish.
Traditionally borscht is made with beef broth and beets (of course), and there are a million different ways to prepare it. I found my favorite recipe on another US blog written by a Russian mom. Here it’s modified to fit our tastes. Though, if you are looking for the original meaty version, I cannot recommend a better place than Sofya’s blog!
- 7 medium beets, leaves removed
- 5 liters vegetable broth
- 3 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 medium turnip, peeled and grated
- 1,5 yellow onion, shelled, and finely cubed
- 1 8-oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 stick of butter
- ½ head of garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 small cabbage, finely shredded
- 3-4 medium potatoes, cubed
- Juice from 2 small lemons
- 2 dry chili peppers
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves
- 5 peppercorns
- Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400⁰F/200⁰C. Wrap the beets in foil, punching a few holes in each bundle. Bake the beets for about 1-1.5 hours.
Pour vegetable broth into a large soup pot, and let it come to a boil. While the broth is warming up, preheat a frying pan, melt the butter on it, and sauté carrots, turnip, and onion in it until the vegetables are very soft and juicy (for about 10 minutes). Add tomato paste, and steer, letting it to melt and incorporate.
Once the beets are baked, remove them from the foil, peel, and shred.
Dump the sautéed vegetables, beets, cabbage, potatoes, chili peppers, bay leaves, cloves, and peppercorns into the broth, and let boil for another 10 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, add lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Your goal is to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour when putting together the final ingredients. My babushka actually adds sugar, if the beets are not sweet enough. It’s all about pleasing your taste buds!
Make ahead: the vegetarian borscht will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months. Cool it, pour it in freezer-safe zip lock bags, and let lay flat in the freezer. The meat version should be ok for up to 3 months.
To serve: garnish the soup with sour cream and dill.
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