I recently had a dinner with some of my Ukrainian friends, and they made borsch soup. Traditional borsch is made with meat and cream, so obviously I didn’t eat it. The part I did eat however, I didn’t like so much. So last weekend, my Ukrainian friend and I decided to make our own vegan version of borsch, and I have to say, it came out SO much better than even the meat version! This soup is chunky, thick and FILLED with a great meat substitute, white beans! We made this dish with blackeyed peas, but you can use any white bean you prefer. White beans are a bit creamier, and they also help to thicken the soup, unlike brown beans that can be harder, and won’t always thicken the liquid.
In order to prepare this dish successfully, make sure you set time aside to cook the beans first, or at least have canned ones on hand, as this can take several hours. Once the beans are cooked, the rest is pretty simple, though you do have a lot of chopping, grating and sauteing to do, so be sure you have a good 2 hours to dedicate to this meal!
So without further ado…let us begin!
You will need:
- 1/2 head of cabbage
- 3 medium or large potatoes
- 3 small beets or 1 large
- 1 red pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 4 cups cooked white beans
- 1 cup water
- 1 large carrot
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 1 small bunch fresh dill
- 3 small garlic cloves
- 1/2 white or yellow onion
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 lemon
- 3-4 tbsp coconut oil
If your beans are not cooked, make sure you cook these beforehand. Follow the package instructions for cooking the beans, then set aside to cool. Save the bean liquid! This can be used to boil the potatoes in the next step.
The next step is to chop and boil the potatoes. Leave the peel on or off, then chop into large cubes, and put into a large pot (this will be the main soup pot) with as much bean juice as you can plus a pinch of salt. If you need more liquid, add water, but only slightly cover the potatoes. This liquid will become the base of the soup. Cook until slightly tender (not too much, because the potatoes will cook again in the soup later on)
While the potatoes are cooking, you want to start prepping your vegetables. Peel and grate the carrots, chop the tomatoes, thinly slice the red pepper and cabbage, dice the onion and mince the garlic.
Take out a large frying pan or cast iron pan, and add in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and heat on medium high heat. Next add the grated beets and saute for about 3 minutes, then add in the carrot, tomatoes, garlic, tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 cup of water. Stew in the pan under medium heat for 5 more minutes.
As the beet mixture is stewing, put the potatoes back on the stove and turn to medium heat. Add the 4 cups of beans to the potatoes in the large pot and the sliced bell pepper (Note: you should still have enough liquid in the pot from the boiled potatoes to hold this mixture. If not, add a tiny bit of water). Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the beet mixture.
Next, add the 1/2 head of sliced cabbage and the bay leaves. Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes. You want the cabbage to be soft but still a bit crunchy, so be sure not to overcook it.
As the soup is simmering, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the pan, and add the diced onion. Cook the onion until it is caramelized. This will be used to top the soup with after it is done.
After 30 minutes, remove the pot, keep it covered and let it sit for another 20 minutes. This will allow the soup to thicken and cook the vegetables some more. You can also top the soup with some of the parsley, as it will cook into the mixture.
Now, we will add it in a bowl! Using a ladle, add the borcsh to a bowl, then top with caramelized onions and more parsley. Your soup is now ready to eat!
Hot tip: You know what tastes great in this soup? Salsa! Yup, that’s right! You can buy any chunky salsa from the store, or if you want to make some yourself, try my very chunky homemade salsa! You can mix the salsa into the soup, or use it as another topping!
If you want to try adding other vegetables feel free! The vegetables in this soup are the same ones that traditional Ukrainian borsch have, but you can always experiment with other vegetables like green beans, broccoli or cauliflower. I think these are all great options!