We’ve defended beets on The Daily Eater, touting their anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogetic properties as well as their deliciousness. This time of year, they’re even more amazing, especially when used for borscht.
A few days ago, I bought a 10 lb. bag of beets for $3 and whipped up a huge steaming pot of vegetarian borscht.
“Help yourself,” I told my roommate, a health-nut and vegan.
“Actually I don’t like beets,” he replied, (he also doesn’t like artichokes, which I’ll get into another time).
“You don’t like beets? You eat mountains of spinach every day and add whipped tofu to everything, but you don’t like beets?”
“Apparently, it’s the number one psychological food ‘dislike’ that we take with us from childhood. Anyways, I prefer vegetables that can be eaten raw.”
Now, I didn’t like mushrooms as a kid, though I’m now a budding mycologist, and I’m still hesitant to eat the tomatoes on my plate, though I know %50 of the time I’ll enjoy them. But as far as I’m concerned, beets look and taste like candy. Also, they CAN be eaten raw: try grating them into your next salad.
So, if you’re like my roommate, and have some inexplicable beef with beets, try this simple recipe, guaranteed to convert even the most avid haters.
Borscht is a staple soup in many Eastern European countries and each country has a different way of making it. I’ve had thick borschts, thin borschts, blended borschts, chunky borschts, hot borschts, cold borschts, beetless borschts and meat borschts. But my favourite is this humble vegetarian borscht that has some texture but not too much, achieved by grating the beets but leaving the other vegetables coarsely chopped, which leaves a nice transluscent purple broth that can be made creamy by the addition of sour cream/yoghurt. Also, this recipe features my favourite herb, the oft under-appreciated dill.
7-8 medium-sized beets, grated or food-processed
2 large carrots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1/2 head Savoy or green cabbage, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup chopped dill
1/2 liter vegetable bouillon
About 2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Plain yoghurt or sour cream
Saute onion and garlic in a large pot. Add carrots and celery (I also threw in 1/2 a zucchini). Simmer, mixing every so often, for about 10 minutes.
Add bouillon and let simmer for another few minutes, before adding beets.
Add enough water to cover all the vegetables.
After about 1/2 hour, add the cabbage.
Add lemon juice. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings. Let the soup simmer on low heat for at least another 1/2 hour.
A few minutes before serving, throw in the dill.
To Serve: Place a dollop of the sour cream or yoghurt in the middle of the bowl, garnish with leftover dill. Serve with crusty bread to make a meal of it.
Health Benefits: We’ve already talked about the health benefits of beets (for a complete break-down check out this link) and this soup is no different. Virtually fatless, especially if you use low-fat sour cream or yoghurt, or even omit it altogether, a bowl probably comes in at around 100 calories. All that considered, it’s incredible filling and satisfying.