Ukranian-style Beetroot Soup (Borscht)


Borscht is a delicious soup made with beetroot and usually served with soured cream. Traditionally from eastern and central Europe, especially Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, it’s cheap, nourishing and extremely tasty. A rich source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, folic acid and iron, beetroot is also said to be performance enhancing, containing nitrates which help the body use oxygen more efficiently (see the power of beetroot).  Easy to throw together, comforting and delicious, it will help your immune system over the winter months. According to Evie, my Polish photographer (she’s the one who makes you want to eat the food right off the page), the eastern Europeans tend not to blend borscht, but I prefer to blend mine.  

Ingredients

Ingredients to serve 4 
  • 50g butter 
  • 1 large red onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 
  • 1 large carrot, diced 
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced 
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped 
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar 
  • 400g raw beetroot, peeled and diced (about 4 medium beetroots) 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 200g white cabbage, shredded 
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 1.5 l beef stock 
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 1 cooked beetroot, grated 
  • Soured cream and chopped chives or dill to serve 
 

Nutrition

Nutrition per serving (4) 
  • Energy (kcal) 303 
  • Carbohydrate (g) 40
    • Of which sugars (g) 16
  • Fat (g) 12.6 
    • Of which saturates (g) 7.5 
  • Protein (g) 10
  • Fibre (g) 7.4 
  • Salt (g) 3.5
  •  
 

Method

Method  Prep time – 5-10 mins  Cook time – 30 mins 
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft. Then add the garlic, carrot, potato, celery, caraway seeds and raw beetroot. Turn the heat down very low, cover, and leave the vegetables to ‘sweat’ for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the sugar, stock, vinegar, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the cabbage.  
  3. Before serving, add a little lemon juice and the grated cooked beetroot - this freshens the colour to make it a nice deep purple. 
  4. Check for seasoning, and adjust with salt, pepper, sugar and/or lemon juice. 
  5. Blend the soup to a smooth puree using a hand held blender or liquidiser. Either reheat and serve warm, or chill in the refrigerator and serve ice-cold. Either way, spoon over a little soured cream and a scattering of chopped chives or dill before eating.  

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