Love for Food + Whole Foods

Mean Borscht

Somewhere between Sophomore and Junior Year of college, I acquired a love of beets. It began in the cafeteria as an addiction in the salad bar and continued when I lived with a Russian speaking roommate who cooked a mean borscht. I've sometimes wondered if beets contain some nutrient that my body knows it's lacking. Could it be iron? I was once diagnosed borderline anemic. Beets are also a good source of Vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, manganese, and fiber! Beets have even been found to have cancer-fighting properties due to the pigment Betacyanin, the source of a beet's deep ruby color. There are actually a multitude of health benefits I could list but you can check them out here if you're so inclined.

After college, I honed a Borscht recipe of my own. It's not traditional, just a simple and easy recipe that I've tailored to my own taste but it's also a favorite of my fiance Brian. I purposefully exclude tomatoes and potatoes. I feel that they compete too strongly with the flavor of the beets. On the contrary, cabbage, carrots, apples and onions embellish the sweetness of the beets without dulling their unique flavor. I use quality beef stock from a carton (use chicken if you prefer it) for the broth with a generous dose of red wine. Vegetable broth is absolutely interchangeable if you prefer to make this a vegetarian dish. I enjoy making a big batch of this stew because it lasts for not just one but two and sometimes three dinners, and often all the lunches in between.

I chop all of the vegetables while the onions and celery saute. The last vegetables to go in are the beets. I use canned beets because they are economical and convenient. Fresh beets are a little tricky since they stain so badly. I realize that using pre-cooked canned beets decreases the nutritional benefits I lauded above since fresh vegetables are generally nutritionally superior, it's a trade-off. I also like the canned variety because I add the beet liquid from 1 and half of the cans to the broth.

Since there is a lot of vegetable chopping to do – onions, celery, apples, carrots, and cabbage... I like to bring my laptop into the kitchen to listen to a podcast (especially Tranquility du Jour from local creative yogini-entrepreneur Kimberly Wilson) or an audio book (I recently enjoyed No Impact Man ). Cooking is a relaxing time for me... a time to create something nourishing to enjoy with a loved one. This meal will warm you up inside - it's especially satisfying on a cold winter day. The essential finish is a generous dollop of sour cream!

Ashley's Borscht Recipe
Start to Finish: Approximately 1.5 hours.
Servings: 8-10

4 Tbsp Butter
1 large or 2 small Yellow Onions
4 stalks Celery
2 peeled Apples (Gala work well)
1/2 Cabbage
5 Carrots
3 Cans of Sliced Beets (be sure not to buy the pickled kind)
2 cups Red Wine (whatever you like)
1 Qt. Beef Stock
3 Bay Leaves (they are just for flavoring, do not eat them)
Salt to taste
Sour Cream

1. Finely chop the onion and celery and add it to the butter which you have melted in a large pot over very low heat.
2. Let the onion and celery saute slowly while you first chop up the cabbage, then peel and dice the carrots, and finally peel and dice the apples. Add each to the pot as you go, each time stirring to combine (this will take about 20-30 minutes).
3. Add the beef stock, red wine, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes on low-medium heat.
4. Add the beets, including 1 and 1/2 cans of the liquid from the cans.
5. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low-medium heat.
6. Salt to taste, serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Apple, beets, borscht, Cabbage, carrot, Food for Conversation, Ice Cream, potato, soup recipe, Tomato, vegetarian recipe, and more:

Mean Borscht + Whole Foods