Ludwig van Beethoven once said that only the pure in heart can make a good soup. So naturally I had to prove him wrong.
I’m just kidding. I’m perfectly lovely. Not as lovely as a steaming bowl of vegan borscht with a hunk of crusty bread, but what is? Ever since I learned how to cook traditional Russian borscht while living in Moscow it’s been one of my go-to comfort foods – and one that doesn’t make me feel guilty for days after.
I apologise if I lost some of you in that previous paragraph. The hearty beetroot soup traces its origins to Ukraine, not Russia. But it’s become so popular throughout Eastern Europe that most countries have adopted it as their own. And now, so have I.
Borscht is traditionally made by combining meat stock with sautéed vegetables, but in this recipe I’m going to show you how to fully veganise it without losing any of the flavour. It takes a little while to cook but the result is more than worth it. I suspect that’s exactly what Beethoven meant when he said that good soups were directly linked to a pure heart. You have to have patience to create beauty.
- 6 small beets peeled
- 2 large potatoes peeled
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots grated
- 1/2 cabbage
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 l vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (optional)
- 1/4 bunch dill (optional)
Before you do your food prep, stick the kettle on so you have 2 litres of boiling water ready to go once it's finished.
Food prep time! Cut your cabbage into thin strips, grate the carrots and finely dice the onions. Peel your beets and potatoes. Cube all the potatoes.
Fill up a large pot with 2 litres of water, throw in your beets and 3 vegetable stock cubes. It's usually one cube per 1/2 litre, but I like to be able to control the flavour and not have a broth that's too salty.
While the beets are cooking, sautée your carrots and onions for about 10 min until they're soft. Once ready, stir in your tomato puree and sugar.
The beets will take about 45 min to cook. At the 30 min mark, add in your potatoes, lemon juice, ground pepper, bay leaves and salt to taste. At the 40 min mark add your shredded cabbage.
Once the beets are cooked remove them from the pot and thinly slice them. Add them back to the pot along with your sautéed carrots and onions.
Cook for another 5-10 min to bring all the flavours together. Add lemon, tomato puree and sugar (can use ketchup instead) if needed.
Serve the soup as is, or with a dollop of vegan sour cream and dill on top. It tastes delicious with a few slices of brown bread!
That’s it! If you’ve followed the steps above you should now have a pot of crimson goodness in front of you.
Now get your spoons ready, because it’s party time. Gotta love those Russian beets!
Have you ever tried borscht, or any other famous Eastern European recipes? Let me know in a comment below!