Borscht (Beet soup with Sour Cream)

When I was at BYU (my university in Utah) my husband, who I was just dating at the time, was sharing an apartment with his best friend/cousin Brandon, who had been living in Russia for the past couple of years serving a church mission. {Wow, that was a lot of background information crammed in one sentence! I wasn’t an English minor for nothing y’know!} ;-) One night Brandon wanted to make us one of his favorite dishes from Russia: “Borscht.” I can’t remember if he made it with the help of my husband or not, but either way, they both knew what was in the soup and I didn’t, so when it came out blood red with floating bits of meat in it… you can only imagine how disturbed and reluctant I was, to eat it. Brandon wouldn’t tell me what was in it until I had taken a bite, and after I had that bite… he told me it was blood. I wanted to CRY! {I was so gullible back in those days!} Not now of course. Ahem.

Right after he said he was kidding, that it was just beets “beetroot” so I was pretty relieved, and actually really liked it. Then recently my husband asked if I would make it. Of course, we had to text a picture of the Borscht to Brandon, since he still lives in Utah and is too far away to come for dinner. He said he likes his Borscht with a lot of beef and a lot of salt, so we text him back and said there was no beef in this one, and then he told us “without the beef it’s not technically Borscht, but a sister to it, called ‘Shi’.” (Get it?!) To be honest, I had completely forgotten beef was even a part of the dish, until I remembered the blood story! {I need to get him back for that!}

My husband’s family makes me feel like a weirdo. 1. Because they think I am obsessed with tomato ketchup, i’m not sure why!? And 2. Because I am the only one in the family who loves beetroot! This recipe has both of these things in it… but even if you don’t like ketchup OR Beets, this soup is still really delicious! I know that doesn’t sound convincing, but my husband who does hate both of these things, loves this soup… so there’s a little proof! Plus, you can’t get much healthier than this dish: it’s packed FULL of vitamins and nutrients. I’ve been kind of on a calorie counting kick this week– and I think there’s a grand total of 160 calories in a HUGE bowl of this… so if you’re looking to trim up for spring and summer around the corner, this would be a great recipe for that! Plus, it makes so much you could eat it for lunch for an entire week! (I.E. Feel free to halve this recipe!)

Here’s the recipe:
3 large or 4 small/medium beets, peeled
2 large or 3 medium potatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly chopped (see picture)
1 can kidney beans with their juice
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth/bouillon 
5 Tbsp ketchup
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp chopped dill
Light Sour Cream to serve

Fill a large pot with 16 cups of water. Add the beets, and boil for about an hour until they are fork tender. Slice the potatoes, add to the pot with the beets and boil for 15-20 minutes. When the potatoes are half way through cooking, add the shredded cabbage.

Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the shredded carrots and diced onion. Sauté for about 7-10 minutes, until soft, then stir in the tomato ketchup.
Remove the beets from the pot one by one and chop into matchstick shapes (I used my mandolin over a plate so my hands and countertops wouldn’t stain red).
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, pepper, bay leaves, kidney beans with their juice, and the sautéed carrots and onions to the pot. Season with chopped dill and about 1Tbsp salt.
Cook another 5-10 minutes, until the cabbage is done, then season to taste. Ladle into bowls, and top with a spoonful of sour cream When you know there’s no blood in this soup, you can actually appreciate how pretty it is! Next time I will put some beef in it to make it a real “Borscht.” Then I will invite some friends over on April 1st! ;-) Enjoy this recipe guys!

<3 Sarah