Vegetarian Borscht

In honor of the warm, friendly, and mostly snafu-free atmosphere it appears the Russians have delivered as Olympic host country, how about a batch of borscht?

Pete and I have been having so much fun watching these world class athletes throw their hearts and souls into competition and giving us thrills, chills, exhilaration, joy, and in some cases disappointment (never in the athletes, just some of the results). From the beauty of the opening ceremony, through the excitement of competition and the personal stories, the games have brought so much enjoyment, we’re sad to see them coming to an end with the closing ceremony tonight.

The skiing has especially entranced us. Near and dear to our hearts have been the cross country races, (we both got our first skinny skis when we were 12 and love the sport, with Pete still competing in Vasaloppet USA). And the amazing downhill events: super G, giant slalom, ski-cross. Also the different snowboarding events, sliding sports, hockey (yes, it still hurts), speed skating, figure skating and curling, it’s all been such a delight to experience from afar.

We’ve also recently had the excitement of the biggest snowstorm of this winter, so a soup is especially appropriate. And the stunning color of borscht is a beautiful backdrop to our snow-white landscape.
No matter how old I get, I still get giddy over the prospect of a good old-fashion blizzard, and this latest storm didn’t disappoint, although it has made driving extremely slow and stressful, even a couple days after the snow ended and the sun came out. Oh well, spring is less than a month away, and we’ve got borscht to warm us when we come inside. That, and maybe a shot or two of vodka! Vashe zdorovie!

Pulled together after reading a few recipes (including this and this) borscht is a hearty, filling soup that only needs some crusty whole-grain bread on the side for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Shredded beets and carrotsSachet


2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 medium beets, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

2 large carrots, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks

3 ripe tomatoes chopped (can use good quality canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)

8 cups water

3 cubes good quality vegetable bouillon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 bay leaves

4 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, beets, carrot, and potato. Continue to cook for several more minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the veggies are cooking, cut a square of cheesecloth and place the bay leaves and whole cloves in the center. Bring the corners together and tie with kitchen twine or string, making a sachet or bouquet garni. Set aside.

To the stockpot, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir it all up and then place the sachet or bouquet garni into the soup and give it another stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Remove the sachet from soup before serving.

To serve, ladle the hot borscht into bowls. Squeeze a little lemon over soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with lots of chopped dill. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread for a full meal. Makes about 8 servings.

Bowl of Borscht


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