Who's ready for another cheap soup recipe? This one is as economical and simple as they come, is ready in minutes, and is far richer and warming than it has any credit being. The recipe comes via the Estonian food blog Nami-Nami, where I was looking for ideas to put the epic amounts of cabbage and beets that are plentiful here in Estonia to good use. It is simply beets, onions, carrots, and cabbage, all cut into shreds and matchsticks, sauteed then simmered together until everything turns a strange and beautiful pink.
Borscht is a popular soup in this part of Europe, with numerous hearty variations that almost always feature the earthy beet. The majority of the time the soup has meat in it, but I didn't miss it one bit (nor did I notice that the soup has hardly any fat). I made a huge pot and the leftovers have only grown tastier. The flavor is light and hearty at the same time, made gently sour by the addition of lemon juice, and far greater than the sum of its parts.
- 1 pound beets (beetroot), peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 3/4 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Salt to taste
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Sour cream (optional, omit for vegan soup)
- Finely chopped parsley or chives (optional, for garnish)
Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and beets (alternatively, shred the carrots and beets using the shredding blade of a food processor) and sauté over medium heat in the olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large soup pot. Reserve a small amount of beet to grate and add near the end to enliven the color.
In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. When the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes), add the shredded cabbage and the hot stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the reserved grated beet.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice, aiming for a pleasing but subtle sour taste. Serve with freshly grated black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped parsley, if desired.