Vegetarian Borscht

Borscht is the ultimate Ukrainian comfort food. It’s perfect for every mood and season. Red, purple, green, vegetarian, pork, duck, mushroom, with smoked pears, or kidney beans. The list is endless. You name the ingredient, and there is a high probability we have a special Borscht recipe for it. The magic of Borscht is that it’s great in any color and interpretation, and with a dollop sour cream and a piece of garlic Pampushki (Ukrainian savory buns), it’s an utter delight.

In Ukraine, we even have a saying, “No hostess can make Borscht the same”. Today I’m sharing my Vegetarian Borscht recipe, and hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s not time-consuming and pretty straight forward. The only request I have for you is to find the best beets possible because this is the most important flavoring component and the whole Borscht depends on it. You need medium-size beets, juicy, with an intense earthy smell, and deep purple color. Get adventurous, go on a beet hunt. Explore your local farmers market and find a couple of perfect beets to make your Borscht absolutely special.

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Vegetarian Borscht

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 45 to 60 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp unfiltered sunflower oil, you can substitute with any other oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 ripe medium tomato, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 small green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill and parsley
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • sour cream for serving

Method

  1. In a medium pot melt the butter and oil. Since this borscht is vegetarian, this is your source of fat and additional flavor.
  2. Add the onion and carrot. Saute until the veggies are soft for about 7 to 9 minutes. Then add diced tomato and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Now it's time to add water (you can also use vegetable stock). With liquid, it's always a bit tricky because the amount will never be the same. It will depend on how big is your pot, and how much vegetables you're using. For me, it's usually about 12 to 14 cups, but I never measure the exact amount. Just use your common sense, and you'll be fine.
  4. Add the beets, potatoes, and dried bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Add a good pinch of salt to taste. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. You're looking for a slow simmering, not an intense boiling.
  5. Add the shredded cabbage. Cook the borscht for another 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the minced garlic, chopped herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
  6. Serve the borscht hot, preferably with a dollop of sour cream.

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