Dark scarlet in color thanks to red beets, borscht is a delicious, instantly comforting, hearty soup that originated in Russia and Poland. Multiple versions of the recipe exist—with potatoes, horseradish, ham hock and meat stock—but mine is simpler and vegetarian. It comes together rather quickly; all you have to do is grate and chop, and even that can be done in three minutes in a food processor.
Traditionally, a dollop of sour cream goes on top of borscht, but if you’re vegan, you can skip this part or use a plant-based alternative.
- Serves 4–6
- 1 large red beet
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, peeled, grated (2 medium carrots)
- ¾ cup parsnips, peeled, grated (1 medium parsnip)
- 1 cup onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced (1 small onion)
- 7 cups vegetable stock, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole black peppercorns
- 3 whole allspice berries
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced (1/4 cabbage)
- Sour cream (optional)
- Place the beet in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 30–40 minutes. Test with a knife—if it slides in easily, the beet is cooked. Drain the water, and cool in an ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel the beet and grate it coarsely. Set aside.
- While the beet is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stockpot. Add the carrots, parsnips and onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of the stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Place the bay leaf, black pepper and allspice on a small piece of muslin, and tighten with a piece of kitchen twine to create a bouquet garni. Add to the stockpot and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the green cabbage and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the bouquet garni, and stir in the grated red beet. Taste for salt and adjust. Serve with a dollop of the sour cream.