One of the things I think I love the most about the holiday season is how steeped it is in tradition. I’m fascinated by how other cultures celebrate during the holiday season, and it’s been fun embracing Swedish traditions. My parents are here for a short but sweet visit this week, and I’m taking them to a traditional Swedish Julbord (Christmas buffet).
Paul has some Ukrainian in his background, and the influence is apparent during the holidays. There are always pierogies at his family’s Christmas dinner, and two kinds of soup – a luscious white bean and sauerkraut soup, and borscht.
I make a kick-ass pierogi, if I do say so myself. I first attempted them sometime around a decade ago in and effort to impress my future in-laws (which totally worked, by the way), but my mother-in-law is the queen of soups. For real. I’m good at making lots of things, but I can’t even come close to her soup-making prowess.
This borscht is inspired by my mother in law. There are beets of course, and cabbage as well. There’s just the right amount of acidity, and a healthy dose of dill. But what makes this soup really special is the can of green peas you add at the end – brine and all. I don’t know what it is, but something about that pea brine takes this soup from ordinary to extraordinary.
Borscht takes some time, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s speckled with the red and green of the season, and is jam packed with good nutrition. It’s also a nice respite from the heavier fare that’s more common at this time of year. It’ll clean out yer pipes, if you know what I mean.
Borscht, like most soups, freezes beautifully. So make up a big batch and freeze the leftovers in individual portions. Come January if you’re looking for a bit of a nutritional reset you’ll be happy to have some on hand.
Beautiful beets contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers. Beets have a unique complement of antioxidants – their red colour comes primarily from betalain antioxidant pigments, rather than anthocyanins. They’re also a very good source of the antioxidant manganese and a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Many of these phytonutrients in beets have also been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds. Beets are an unusual source of betaine – a key body nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. Choline is an important vitamin for helping regulate inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Beets are also an excellent source of folate and a very good source of, potassium, and copper. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B6.
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- 4 medium beets
- 2 large carrots
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 4 medium tomatoes diced
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 400 g can green peas including brine
- Peel and dice the beets and carrots.
- Set a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, 1 tsp salt, and bay leaves. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the carrots have softened.
- Stir in the beets, cabbage, and another teaspoon of salt.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring the soup to a simmer. Cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp fresh dill, and 1 Tbsp fresh parsley. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, peas, and pea brine.
- Season with the remaining herbs, freshly cracked black pepper, and more salt if needed.
- Serve with a dollop of yoghurt if you wish.
-This soup is even more flavourful the next day, so you can make it in advance and reheat when you're ready to serve.
-Freeze leftover borscht in individual servings for quick and easy weeknight meals.
-Adapted from ReBar.