When I was a kid I hated beets. I went so far as to refuse to carry the serving bowl of beets when my mother asked us to help set the table. The bread I would carry, green beans, sure, but no way would I touch the beets. Now they are one of my absolute favorite vegetables.
Did you know that beets have been considered an aphrodisiac since the time of the ancient Romans? They have also been used for medicinal purposes, as well as a natural red dye since at least the 16th century. No wonder these all natural red velvet cupcakes I made for Valentine’s were such a hit!
I most often roast them in large chunks with a little coconut or olive oil and salt and pepper. Leftovers, if any, are great in salads the next day. The tops of the beets, or beet greens, can be sautéed like collards, kale or any greens.
My second favorite preparation of beets is being featured in this soup. Borscht has been made in Eastern European countries, like Russia and the Ukraine, since the 14th century. It’s hearty, economical, and for those with New Year’s Resolutions, filling while being low in calories. Although they are naturally sweet, and contain about 10% natural sugars, 1 cup of beets has only 50-75 calories.
For this recipe, and all of my recipes, please feel empowered to improvise and substitute ingredients. The only essential one is beets! The recipe works equally well with vegetable broth, making a satisfying vegetarian meal, although beef broth is nice, too. You can even throw in beef stew meat chunks, especially for a chunky borscht. I used a big potato, parsnips and some carrots from our garden, along with other veggies.
Beet Borscht Soup Recipe
- Tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 onion
- 3 carrots
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 large beets, with beet greens
- 1 large turnip and/or rutabaga
- 1 large or 2-3 small potatoes
- 3-4 parsnips
- 1 quart of beef or vegetable broth
- 1-2 cups of water, or as needed
- 1 small red cabbage
- 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice, or to taste
- salt, pepper, paprika
- greek yogurt, creme fraiche, or non-dairy sour cream (for a vegan meal)
- fresh dill
In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and carrots for five minutes in the oil with salt and pepper, and then add garlic. Add the hard, root vegetables (beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips) and the broth. Add enough water to cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then lower to a steady simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes and then add the cabbage, simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and add paprika. Add the vinegar or lemon juice to taste.
Option 1: Serve as is as a nice chunky borscht.
Option 2: Puree the soup until smooth. (I like to serve it chunky on the first night and pureed the following. Two soups in one!)
Top with greek yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream and fresh dill.
Tips for Feeding Baby:
This makes great baby food, from months 8 or 9 on.