Borsht is the iconic Russian food.
But it’s also one of the hardest to define. Almost every Russian mother and grandmother has her own special recipe, so defining what makes a good Borsht is a complicated task in the least. Traditionaly, Borsht is made with beef, but this recipe is my vegetarian take on the dish. It’s nutritious, healthy, and lovely for summer or winter.
Borsht can be made with a combination of a number of root vegetables. Some people add carrots, some people leave them out. Borsht’s most important ingredient, however, is beets.
It’s the beets that give Borsht its signature color, and also its amazing health benefits. Beets are known to help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, and support detoxification. Beets are also a great food for athletes as they can help boost stamina. You can read up on these and other health benefits of beets here.
For about six bowls worth, here are the essential Borsht ingredients:
- 1 lb beets
- 3/4 lb cabbage
- 1 onions
- 2 large carrots
- 4 potatoes
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tbsp of tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large hand full of fresh dill (chopped finely)
Now, when it comes to assembling everything, you can get creative. Some recipes suggest cutting the vegetables up into match stick pieces, others suggest one inch cubes. I always do a rough chop, because, well, it’s the easiest. The other variations really effect the texture and not the taste, so I say, choose what you like! Some people even blend it all together for a super creamy texture!
But before you get there, you need to assemble everything in one pot, fill the pot with enough water to cover the vegetables and bring it to a boil. Let it boil on medium for about an hour or until all the vegetables become tender and the flavors have gotten to know one another in there.
At this point, if you wish a finer texture, you can add it to a blender. Otherwise, go ahead and serve.
The last little step (and why I labeled this vegetarian not vegan) is sour cream. To me, and probably to a lot Russians too, it’s just not borsht without sour cream. But everyone likes their own ratio when it comes to this ingredient, so just leave it on the table for people to add a little, or a lot, or none at all to their bowls.
And there you have it! Delicious, healthy, vegetarian!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons