Sunday, September 29, 2013

Eat Your Beets! Beet & Cabbage Borscht

Breathe properly.  Stay curious.  And eat your beets.  ~ Tom Robbins

It's decidedly fall here.  Leaves are turning and falling almost simultaneously.  As much as I adore summer, there is something quite special about the smell and light and the feeling fall has.  Borderline melancholic with a good dash each of wistfulness and hope - that's how I think of fall.  With this new season there seems to be a shot at a fresh start.  Plans to make.  Pencils to sharpen.  Out of summer la la land and into a deeper focus of what's important.  Plus, lets not forget new TV season.  (Homeland tonight!).  In garden-land, things have quieted down considerably, and I'm happy for it.  My evenings no longer have to be about watering and weeding and harvesting.  Tomatoes are still on the vine and I watch the frost warnings like a hawk.  There are a few roots left - the beets and carrots don't mind the chill and are quite forgiving of my neglect.  It's put-the-garden-to-bed time, and what better way to use up the last of your hard work than with a big pot of soup bubbling away on the stove.  See ya later, summer.  Fall is my new best friend and I'm bringing it on with borscht.  

Borscht is one of those soups where you probably think you make it the best. Or your mom does.  Or your grandma.  And I'm not going to fight on you that.  There are probably as many borscht variations as there are beets.  But this is how I like it and I think it's pretty great.  A couple of things.  This one is vegetarian, but you could easily cook up chicken, beef or pork bones and use that as your base.  I also add whole beets to the soup and remove them once they have cooked and then shred them.  I think this saves a little time and a bit of mess and amps up the flavour.  Lastly, I added black beans at the end.  There is probably a Baba out there shaking a finger at me.  How dare you add beans to borscht?  But there is also another Baba who would give me a high-five.  The beans increase the nutrition and I like the flavour.  If I were using beef bones, I'd add the meat, too.  Borscht is one of those soups where you can do whatever the heck you like.  Leave out potatoes or double them up.  Don't like cabbage?  Don't add cabbage!  I added the beet greens at the end, only because they looked lovely and I hate throwing out food.  But let's face it.  Borscht isn't borscht without the generous dollop of sour cream.  And a good dose of dill.  One of the prettiest soups, each empty bowl is almost a masterpiece.  Happy autumn, friends.  

Beet & Cabbage Borscht

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cubed carrots
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup shredded green or purple cabbage
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed (if peel is nice, leave it on)
1 798 ml can diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
8 cups of veggie broth or chicken, pork or beef broth
4 medium beets, scrubbed but unpeeled
1 1/2 cups cooked white or black beans
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls beet greens or chard, chopped
handful chopped fresh dill
sour cream to garnish

Heat oil in large soup pot.  Add the carrots, onion and garlic.  Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage and potatoes and cook 5 minutes longer.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and broth.  Stir well.  Add the whole beets.  Bring to a boil, simmer, covered for about 1 hour.  Remove beets, let them cool, then shred them.  Add to the soup, along with their juices.  Stir in the cooked beans, vinegar, paprika, honey, salt and pepper and beet greens.  If too thick, add more broth.  Simmer 5 more minutes on low heat.  Stir in dill.  Adjust seasonings.  Serve into soup bowls and garnish with a healthy amount of sour cream.  Serves 6 to 8.  Recipe adapted from Cinda Chavich's book High Plains.   



  1. You know, I've never cooked Borscht! It's so interesting to read your take on the soup here, because Borscht is alien to me. I really must give it a try, though, and I love the idea of beginning with the Renee version! Happy fall!

  2. This looks amazing! I haven't had Borscht since last fall, and it was so good that I've thought of it every week since! Happy fall, lady...

  3. oh - i do love borscht! from the early summer soup made with teeny tiny baby beets cooked whole and decorated with their tiny sweet leaves and sour cream to the late fall soup made with maybe only ONE giant beet...always lovely!
    and you are very right about the empty bowls - works of art!

  4. Renee, I'm a total beet lover and have to applaud those gorgeous beets from your garden! What beauties. And I love that you use the greens in your borscht. Welcome fall indeed.
    PS I'm so enjoying your stunning photos from your little yurt getaway. You're giving the rest of us a little mini vacation too;)

  5. I tried this as my first time making borscht. I didn't have dill, I used red norlands instead of yukon gold, didn't use sour cream, didn't use tomato paste but a squirt of ketchup, and served it hot and chunky. I thought it was a little salty and sweet while also being quite savoury. Boyfriend said it tasted a lot like beets. I had it with a beer and ate 3 bowls of it. Delicious and really not hard to make at all!

  6. Jess - thanks lady. Happy fall to you too!
    Movita - looks like it's borscht time for you! Enjoy your fall in Halifax :)
    Molly - beets really are the best. Thank you!
    Erin - The greens were way to gorgeous to toss away - they kind of make the soup (the sour cream doesn't hurt either). Hope you are enjoying fall in California. My yurt holiday was just perfect. Stay tuned for a little recap here :)
    Lynn - Sounds like your first borscht experience went well! I've never made it with ketchup (or without sour cream), but if you ate three bowls I trust you enjoyed it! Borscht, like most cooking, isn't hard it all. Just keep it simple! Thanks for stopping by :)

  7. When I saw this recipe I thought 'Why didn't I grow beets this year?' Looks delicious!

  8. Thanks for sharing your the #beetlove! And I absolutely adore your delicious food photos on Instagram!

  9. Your pictures of borscht are lovely. I'm Ukrainian and this is my favorite soup. I actually have three recipes for it on my site. Yours looks wonderful, thank you for sharing :)

  10. I just made borscht but a little bit differently, without beans and its also vegetarian. But yours looks delicious and I will have to try it!


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