Borscht (Beet Soup)

a bowl of borscht

This borscht recipe has been with me since my catering days in Billings, Montana, when I was preparing soups for a café in an art gallery, during the early 1980’s.  Now it graces my table every summer.  A particular prayer partner claims my version is far better than that which she had in Russia.  Indeed, this chilled soup is a beautiful offering on a hot summer day!

This delicacy has been long popular in Eastern European countries under the following names: borscht, borsch, borshch, and bosht.  Over time it has spread from these nations to other continents, as their people emigrated; in North America, it is commonly linked with the Jews and Mennonites that came from these areas.  The common name borscht is derived from the Russian borsch meaning cow parsnip, which was an original recipe ingredient of the Slavs.

The most familiar American adaptation of this soup, which is made with beetroot, is of Ukrainian origin.  With its first record being in the 12th century, this dish subsequently emerged from a wide variety of sour-tasting soups present in the Eastern European section, such as rye-based white borscht, sorrel-based green borscht, and cabbage borscht.  Our well-known Ukrainian recipe was originally inspired by the addition of leftover beetroot pickling; thus, its brilliant color and tart flavor.

There are as many different preparations for this beet soup as there are homes in which it is consumed; they may include the additions of meat, fish, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Spanish conquistadors brought potatoes and tomatoes from America to Europe in the 16th century; these vegetables weren’t a common part of the Eastern European peasants’ diet, however, until the 19th century, at which time they found their way into the Ukrainian and Russian borscht, food of both poor men and princes.  As a result of emigration, tomatoes and potatoes are a part of borscht recipes around the world, but my version has neither of these.

Still other variations occur with this renowned soup involving its garnishes and side dishes.  Smetana, or sour cream, is its most common topping; chopped herbs, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and sausage may also be utilized.  There are plentiful side dishes; among them are pampushky (Ukrainian garlic rolls) and treasured pirozhki (individually sized pastries or dumplings filled with meat and onions).

You can see that despite its centuries-long history there is no consistent receipt for this sustaining chilled delight, for even this latter characteristic may vary, and it may be served hot.  My borscht is a cold, meatless, summer soup adorned with sour cream and eggs; for the benefit of added protein make this recipe with bone broth, from my post on Tortellini Soup (2016/10/10).  This is a treat!

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borscht

https://www.britannica.com/topic/borsch

www.dictionary.com/browse/borscht

easy mincing of onion

Borscht (Beet Soup)  Yields: 4-5 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr/  active prep time:30 min/  cooking time: 30 min

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium/large yellow onion

3 large purple beets, a little less than 2 pounds without the tops

1 quart broth  (I prefer bone broth, 2016/10/10, for powerful health benefits including high protein.)

1 cup water

2 small lemons, juiced  (Use half to start; then, adjust with more to taste.)

1 tbsp honey, or to taste  (Local raw honey is always best, for its localized bee pollen is known to relieve allergies naturally through the concept of immunotherapy.)

1 tsp Better than Bouillon, or to taste

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available at your local supermarket.)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

sweating onions

Sour cream

3 extra-large eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

  1. Chop the onion in small pieces the easy way (see above photo).  Peel it leaving the root on; next, score this by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of the way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the opposite direction.  When onion is thus prepared, shave the small pieces off the end with a sharp knife.  May discard root end; set aside chopped vegetable.
  2. Heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat; add piece of onion; when it sizzles, add remaining onion; sweat, cook only until translucent (see photo).  Set aside, go to next step.
  3. Spray beets with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray (mix 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle).  Let sit for 3 minutes and rinse well.
  4. Peel and cut beets in 1/4 inch dice; add to cooked onions.
  5. Cover with broth and water; bring to a boil over medium/high heat; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until beets are soft.
  6. borscht cooking in pot

    Add half the lemon juice and honey.

  7. Stir in Better than Bouillon; then, add salt and pepper.
  8. Adjust lemon juice, honey, Bouillon, salt, and pepper to taste.
  9. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.  Serve topped with sour cream and chopped hard-boiled eggs.  (May make ahead and freeze.)
  10. I love this summer soup!

Sprouted Three Bean Dip

sprouted three bean dip with organic sprouted Que Pasa chips

This sprouted three bean dip is my sister Maureen’s creation.  It was inspired by the life-preserving works of her prayer partner Jeanette in the early 2000’s.  Her friend was a cancer victim with four months to live when she chose non-traditional treatment, a juice fast at a health center.  After healing was complete, Jeanette began to teach powerful juice fasting herself, elaborating on its restorative values with sprouted foods.  Together these produce a perfect ph balance in our systems, in which cancer can’t survive.  This woman is now world renown for treating the terminally ill.

Sprouting magnifies the nutritional qualities of grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.  For instance, almonds soaked for 24 hours increase in food value 11x.  Quinoa, a pseudo-cereal, which fits nicely between grains and legumes, is also dramatically changed; this complete protein, which grows quickly in 1-2 days, is high in manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, fiber, folate, zinc, vitamin E, and antioxidants; my instructions for germinating quinoa can be found in Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad (2016/09/05).  Beans, however, take about 3 days for the enzymes to come alive; live beans are also a good source of protein, as well as B and C vitamins.

Maureen learned much about nutrition from her friend and subsequently passed it on to me.  My sister creatively applied her sprouting method to cooked three-bean dip; Jeanette, however, never cooks anything.  Note that boiling these beans diminishes their life; thus, they are no longer considered a live food, but germination still holds some benefits here even with the heating.

On the other hand, sprouting can encourage bacteria to grow, while high heat kills these microorganisms; boiling also deactivates irritating substances that may be found in raw sprouts; therefore, people with weak immune systems should be careful about eating sprouted foods.  Indulge as your body dictates, always employing sterile conditions while undertaking this technique.

Koreans have long employed stewing in making their common side dish known as kongnamul; in this popular nourishment, the sprouted soybeans have been cooked thoroughly and seasoned with fish sauce, garlic, green onions, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and hot pepper flakes.  This refreshing accompaniment is almost always present at every meal in this culture; for an authentic recipe, go to http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kongnamul-muchim

My dip will keep for many weeks in the refrigerator (these instructions provide three quarts of product, two of which I freeze).  For me, the receipt’s importance is not only its enzymatic quality, which decreases some with boiling and freezing, but more so the ease it provides of always having a dynamite hors d’ouvres on hand.  It’s good!

ingredients for sprouted three bean dip

Sprouted Three Bean Dip  Yields: 3 quarts (ideal for freezing).  Total prep time: “3” days to soak beans for live enzymes, plus 3 1/2 hr to prepare/  active prep time: 1 hr/  cooking time: 2 1/2 hr.

3 cups pinto beans

1 cup red beans

1 cup black beans

1 tbsp salt  (Real Salt is best for optimum health; available in the health section of local supermarket.)

2/3 cup garlic cloves, cut in thirds, 2 medium/large bulbs of garlic needed  (This produces a pungent garlic flavor; may adjust amount for a weaker garlic taste.)

1 cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup salsa  (Trader Joe’s makes a good and reasonable Salsa Authentica.)

3-1 quart empty yogurt or cottage cheese containers, sterilized

  1. Began soaking beans 3 days ahead of time: place the pinto and red beans only in a large stock pot; check for stones; then, cover generously with water.  Next place black beans in a 3 quart saucepan, covering well with water, after checking for stones,  (Black beans cook faster; thus, they need to be prepared separately.)
  2. Let soak for 12 hours.  Drain and rinse every 6-8 hours thereafter to keep beans wet until sprouted.  Do not let beans dry out.  Enzymes will be alive even if sprouts are just beginning to show.  This process takes several days.
  3. When sprouts have grown, rinse beans well again, and cover amply with fresh water.  Cook black beans over medium heat until soft for about 45 minutes.  Bring pinto/red beans to a boil over medium heat (this takes around 45 minutes) and cook for about 1 1/4 hours more, or until soft.  Replenish water if needed.  DO NOT ADD SALT WHILE COOKING, THIS INHIBITS BEANS FROM SOFTENING.
  4. Peel garlic while beans are cooking; cut cloves in halves or thirds, filling a 2/3 cup measuring cup (or 1/2 cup if you want a weaker garlic flavor).  Place in a dry food processor; chop fine, stopping and scraping down sides.  Pack down chopped garlic in same measuring cup; split in half with a knife, using one half for each of the two batches you are processing.  Set aside, see photo.  (Note: of necessity, dip will taste very strongly of garlic at first; this flavor mellows greatly after several days!  If you don’t like a powerful garlic taste, you may decrease the amount of garlic cloves to 1/ 2 cup total, 1/4 cup per batch, or to taste.)
  5. Remove the black beans from heat when they are soft, immediately add 1 tsp salt to hot bean broth.  Let soak for 15 minutes, drain well, set aside.  (This process salts the bean dip evenly.)
  6. Repeat step 4 with the pinto/red beans when finished cooking; add 2 tsp of salt, however, to this mixture.
  7. When beans are cooked, salted, and drained, process the first of two batches by placing half the pinto/red beans, half the black beans, half the garlic, 1/2 cup oil, and 1/2 cup salsa in the food processor.  Turn on and puree.  Press the “dough” button on processor briefly, as it agitates the mass with different motions than those of regular processing; in this way, blend the bean dip well.
  8. Place in sterilized containers and repeat step 7 with last of beans.
  9. This keeps in refrigerator for many weeks, freezes extra well, is great for long-term use.

A Baker’s Dozen of Health Tips

I taught a cooking class to the women in my church recently. The focus was on how to eat healthy.  Here is a recipe for sprouting pumpkin seeds along with lively tips from my class.

Sprouting explodes powerful nutrients and unlocks enzymes to greatly aid digestion and bring optimal health. Buying sprouted seeds of any kind is very expensive.  Below is a recipe for doing it ourselves cheaply.  This same process may be used to sprout any seed and the grain quinoa as well. Now for my health-giving advice:

  1. Enjoy food! God created us to have pleasures at his right hand. It’s important not to deny this! I almost always invite Jesus, my King, to sup with me when I begin a meal.  I let him in.  Eating is a holy exercise.  (Revelation 3:20:  “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:  If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”) Let us invite Jesus, our Redeemer, into our hearts at mealtimes.
  2. Eat multiple, small meals-4 to 5 per day ranging from about 200 to 600 calories each.
  3. Eat foods that please the palate. Make sure they are healthy choices, with lots of variety, and are small portions.
  4. When weight increases suddenly, such as after the holidays, let us be very observant of reducing the quantity (not quality) of our food. Cut back on the special treats, but don’t avoid them totally. Just be more aware of how often we eat them and how much we eat at a time. Let us be patient in letting the weight adjust itself when we are faithful.
  5. Count protein intake for the day. (I was border-line anemic several physicals ago; I wasn’t getting enough protein and very little meat in my diet. Now I am careful about watching both protein and iron consumption.)
  6. Tip for helping our bodies absorb iron: Have a small amount of vitamin C when eating foods high in iron.  Examples are citrus fruits,  fresh squeezed lemon water, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, melon, dark greens, broccoli, etc. Choose foods high in iron daily: Include meat in our diets (beef is the best choice, chicken is also very good.) Use spinach. However lots of raw spinach isn’t good. Balance raw spinach with cooked spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables..
  7. High quality salt and electrolytes are so important. A proper balance of these will bring stability to our emotions as well as doing good things for our physical bodies. Use Real Salt, available in the health food section at our local supermarkets. Himalayan salt is also very good, but more expensive. Good salt has a pink color to it; while white salt, including white sea salt, is stripped of necessary, health-giving minerals.
  8. Supplements such as vitamin D and calcium, etc. are very important. It is hard to get the full quantity you need of these in food. Ask your health care provider what you should be taking for YOUR body. Much to my surprise, I discovered supplementing calcium damages my particular physical make-up!
  9. Quinoa is a power food with all the amino acids in it (only eggs and quinoa have these.) Sprouting amplifies its food value. Use it in salads; add it to soups, meatloaf, and casseroles. It is extremely high in protein, but low in carbohydrates and calories.
  10. Spray vegetables and fruits with 97 % distilled white vinegar, mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Let sit 3 minutes. Rinse WELL. This kills parasites and cleans produce.
  11. Start day with eating about 6-7 dried prunes to bring regularity to your bowels. (Prunes with sorbate are fine. It is a natural preservative aiding color and softness of fruit.) 
  12. A miracle happened to me. A seed of God was planted and grew without my efforts: I used to weigh 226 lbs. At this time I used tons of salad dressing. I watched a close friend use dressing sparingly. OVER TIME I began to prefer just a little salad dressing with lots of greens. I first enjoy the plain greens, saving the rich blessing of the dressed salad for last. I DO NOT LIKE the cloying heaviness of too much salad dressing now! I didn’t do this. God did!
  13. Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds May use other seeds or quinoa. (Yields: about 2 cups.)
    1. Cover 2 cups of raw pumpkin seeds with water in a special sprouting container, or a quart-size bowl.
    2. Let sit for two days, changing water frequently (at least every 8 hours.) Seeds will not sprout tails, but the enzymes will be alive in them anyway.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: When sprouting quinoa, drain well after sprouting, then refrigerate.  This is all that is needed for sprouting quinoa.

    1. With pumpkin seeds, drain well and spread out evenly on a cookie sheet. Salt generously. Real Salt is best (this is available in the nutrition center of your local supermarket.)
    2. Dehydrate in a dehydrater, or a conventional oven at a low setting of about 175 degrees.
    3. Check after two hours, if using a conventional oven. Continue drying process, checking every half hour, until seeds are dry. Remove from oven when seeds are crunchy.

    6. Cool and store in an air-tight container. Refrigerate.