Borscht is a beet root soup well-loved in many Eastern European households. This simple version of vegetarian Polish borscht is healthy and extremely quick and easy to make. The vegetable’s deep red color makes it a lovely addition to any dinner table, while its delicate and healthful flavor will leave the taste buds wanting more. Aside from taste, beet roots are also appreciated for their health benefits. According to the World’s Healthiest Food website, consumption of beet roots can help protect against certain diseases and cancers, particularly colon cancer.
Beet roots are usually harvested between mid summer and fall. Given the right storage, the roots can keep well until the following spring. Choose beet roots that feel firm and heavy. Firmness often indicates freshness and it also makes grating easier. For short-term storage, one to two weeks, place beet roots in a plastic or paper bag and refrigerate.
Note: Vegetable soup cubes and water can be substituted by vegetable soup stock.
Peel and wash beet root, potato, onion, and carrots. In a large bowl, grate beet root and carrots. It is best to wear an apron when grating as stains from the beet root can be hard to get rid of. Dice the onion and cut the potato into small chunks. Mix the four vegetables together and set aside. If grating is not an option, the vegetables can also be chunked. For those who want to save time, aim for smaller chunks as they will get cooked faster.
In a large pot, bring twelve to fourteen cups of water to boil. Use less water if you like your soup thick. Add the vegetable soup cubes. Slowly add the vegetables, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Cook uncovered on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lower the heat and place the lid back on. Let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove lid and add salt as desired.
In some Polish households, people sometimes add boiled eggs and sour cream to borscht. Take a hard-boiled egg and cut it into quarters or slices. Place the egg in a bowl and ladle borscht over it. Add a dollop of sour cream. Serve and enjoy immediately.
Some people claim that borscht tastes the best the day after it is cooked as the vegetables will have more time to absorb the flavors.
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