Thick and Nurturing Vegetarian Beet Cabbage Borscht –
The Borscht of My Memories
Made hearty and sophisticated with vegetables turned a brilliant violet from the beets, and creamy, rich from sour cream, Beet Cabbage Borscht (bôrSHt) is one of the world’s great soups. Deeply flavored and satisfying vegetarian Beet Cabbage Borscht reminds me of my Auntie Esther’s Borscht. With even a slight amount of Eastern European heritage, this may be the borscht of your memories, too.
When I was a young girl,our family owned a two-tone green Chevrolet. My father would drive us through the twists and turns of the Hollywood Hills to West Los Angeles to visit my aunt and uncle. A meal at their long, wide, white linen covered table was always special.
Of all the lunch offerings, I still remember the Beet Cabbage Borscht turned pale violet from lots of sour cream, the two kinds of pickled herring, dark pumpernickel and caraway seeded rye bread, boiled potatoes and sliced cucumbers. And of course the crisp, dry (perfect for dunking) and barely sweet sugar cookies made by my Uncle’s Russian mother. Each impeccably formed cookie in the shape of checkerboard squares, chocolate pinwheels or my sister’s favorite, Mandelbrot.
A hearty one-pot meal
Traditionally, a large pot of borscht’s thick and nourishing mix of vegetables is prepared to feed a family a hearty one-pot meal over a number of days. Which is a good thing, as the flavor continues to get better with each day. With a small family, though, you might prefer to make half a recipe of Beet Cabbage Borscht.
To peel or not to peel
Some people say absolutely peel beets and can’t imagine ever not peeling them. Here are my more flexible guidelines.
- With young and tender beets, a good scrub and some trimming around the ends with a peeler or a knife and they’re good to go.
- Peel especially dirty beets with lots of grit in their attached roots.
Beet Cabbage Borscht with Potatoes and Sour Cream
Traditionally a large pot of borscht is prepared to feed a family over a number of days. Which is a good thing, as the flavor continues to get better with each day. For a smaller amount of Borscht, this recipe is easily halved.
- There’s a bit of work involved in preparing the vegetables for Beet Cabbage Borscht. Such as roasting the beets to concentrate their sweetness and shorten their cooking time in the soup pot. Though all of your effort is well rewarded with a huge pot of earthy, vibrant, violet-hued borscht.
- So many textures in each spoonful. Grated and diced and roasted beets, diced potatoes, shreds of cabbage and silken broth all married together with a large dollop of sour cream.
- Enjoy this hearty and nourishing Beet Cabbage Borscht hot, cold or at room temperature.
- Naturally gluten-free. And vegan without the dollop of sour cream.
- Inspired by recipe in The Daily Soup Cookbook.
Makes 5 ½ quarts Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
2 ⅓ pounds beets, trimmed and peeled as needed. Coarsely grate 6 cups of beets; ⅓-inch dice 4½ cups beets
1 tablespoon ⅛-inch diced butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced pole to pole than halved (3 cups)
2 cups ⅓-inch diced carrots
2 cups ⅓-inch diced celery
3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed with a garlic press
2 tablespoons sea salt
Dozen twists freshly ground black pepper
2 pound head of cabbage, trimmed, cored and sliced ¼-inch thick (4mm slicing disc)
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
4 cups ½ -inch diced Yukon Gold potatoes (1⅓ pounds)
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread out the grated and diced beets in a single layer on different rimmed and baking paper lined sheet pans. Dot the grated beets with the butter and cover this pan with foil. Roast both pans of beets for 45 minutes, turning the diced beets once. Remove the beets from the oven and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes.
- Raise the heat to medium. Stir in the diced carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Top with the sliced cabbage. Cover the pot; cook 4 minutes.
- Add 12 cups of water along with the potatoes and reserved beets. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat so the soup simmers for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
- Stir in the horseradish, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Adjust the salt to taste.
- Serve Beet Cabbage Borscht garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced scallions. Enjoy Beet Cabbage Borscht hot, cold or at room temperature.