My first Borscht
The first time I ever ate (or even heard of) borscht was back in Baltimore when I visited my good friend, Chef Jack Starr at his restaurant about 8 years ago. Maybe more like 9. My how time flies! Way back then, I had not yet acquired a taste for beets, so I was more than slightly hesitant when he put a steaming bowl of blood red liquid in front of me. He’d pureed all the ingredients and turned what’s usually a red brothy soup with chunks of beet, potato, and cabbage into a smooth, creamy masterpiece. He was excited for me to try his take on this traditional eastern European soup, and I absolutely loved it.
I’ve since seen tons of regional variations of this soup. Some include beef or pork; some use savoy or green cabbage instead of purple. Some use tomatoes and very few beets, while others leave out the beets all together. I’ve seen recipes that include potatoes and recipes that don’t. There’s cold borscht and hot borscht, the two prepared totally differently. The spices vary, the consistency varies, and surprisingly, the color varies too. I learned recently that there’s actually a green borscht that features spinach instead of cabbage. Who knew?!
CWB-Style Blended Beet Borscht
Before we left for our 5-day visit to Texas at the beginning of the year, I realized that we had quite a bit of produce in the fridge that we weren’t going to be able to eat before our departure. Included were beets and cabbage, so I asked my buddy Jack what else I needed to make his amazing red pureed borscht. I didn’t want my anthocyanin-rich red and purple ingredients to go to waste. In typical chef fashion, he rattled off the ingredients with no proportions or measurements, so I figured all that out myself. I also used one yellow beet instead of two red ones to tone down some of the earthiness that can sometimes be a bit too much (for me) with red beets. Then I added a few extra ingredients of my own to boost the nutrition and make a CWB-style Blended Beet Borscht.
One thing I learned in this process is that, as much as I absolutely love my immersion blender, sometimes it’s just not enough to get the fine consistency I want. When I was using it for this recipe, I was disappointed to see that the fibrous ingredients weren’t breaking down the way pumpkin and sweet potatoes do in some of my other soup recipes. I ended up pouring everything into my NutriBullet Pro 900 Series (affiliate link), and was relieved to find that it made all the difference in the world. Use your judgement with your own appliances — you might have a better immersion blender than I do. Just keep in mind that this soup is meant to have nothing “chewable” in it — it’s an entirely smooth, silky consistency, and my little gizmo just couldn’t hack it.
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 medium carrots (use any color you want)
- 1 large red beet, diced
- 1 large yellow beet, diced
- 1/2 head red cabbage, sliced and chopped
- 3 tbs fresh grated horseradish
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
- 3 tsp real or sea salt
- 10 cups chicken or veggie broth
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- Topping: 1 dollop of sour cream per bowl
- Heat a stock pot on medium and add the olive oil
- Cook the next 6 ingredients for 10 minutes before adding the horseradish, dill, and salt
- Cook another 5 minutes, then add broth and vinegar
- Reduce heat and allow flavors to meld for another 10 to 15 minutes
- Transfer to a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy
- Serve hot with a dollop of organic sour cream on top
- If you have a very high-quality immersion blender, you might be able to save yourself from dirtying up the blender. I found that my immersion blender wasn't strong enough to get the job done.