My mother wasn’t quite the ninja in the kitchen, but she did, however, have a very particular preference for 3 things: a perfect cup of coffee, the right amount of apples in her apple cake, and a few soups, which she happily rotated on the weekly. Today I would like to share a recipe for one of those soups - The Ukrainian Green Borscht.
Traditionally green borscht gets its name from its main ingredient- sorrel, which is a green tangy, sour herb. Since sorrel was a hard find even in the ethnic markets, my mom used spinach, which serves as a great substitute. Other ingredients include potatoes, carrots, scallions, and hard-boiled eggs. It doesn't come as a surprise that some Eastern European families might have their own spin on the Borscht! In fact, some make it with meat. My mom’s recipe, however, is vegetarian. This soup comes together very quickly and is often served with a spoonful of sour cream, and fresh dill. The peak season for sorrel is around spring/summer. Substituting it with spinach allows us to enjoy this wonderful tasty soup year-round.
How to make vegetarian green borscht?
Ingredients for Green Borscht
- olive oil
- celery stalks
- carrot tops (optional)
- parsnips (optional)
- celeriac root (optional)
- parsley (optional)
- salt and pepper
- spinach (a large bunch of loose spinach or a big clamshell- the spinach will reduce in size, so it might look like a lot)
- lemon (if using sorrel, omit lemon)
- hard-boiled eggs
- dill (for serving)
- sour cream (for serving)
All the optional ingredients listed above add extra flavor to the veggie stock/broth so include them when possible.
Preparing Green Borscht
This soup is mostly made of liquid broth plus loads of spinach and hard-boiled eggs. In order to get the most flavorful results, it is important to infuse the liquid or base with aromatics and flavor. Some of the basic aromatics are carrots and celery, and that works just fine. However, to take it up a notch go ahead and add some others like parsnips, celeriac root, carrot tops, and fresh parsley.
To begin wash, and scrub your vegetables. Cube the potatoes, slice the carrots and parsnips and don't forget to keep the carrot tops. When cutting up vegetables, keep them equal in size so they will cook evenly. For potatoes, I prefer yellow potatoes for their sweet taste and thin skin, that does not need to be peeled.
Feel free to use any carrots you like. I had these beautiful red carrots I included.
Soup can be prepared in a regular soup pot however I prefer to make soup in my decade-old oval 4.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven (which appears that this specific size is no longer produced). Here is a more affordable version from Lodge.
In a soup pot or dutch oven, over medium heat, heat olive oil, enough to just coat the bottom of the pot. Add potatoes and carrots, and saute for about 7 minutes, mixing them periodically. Season with about ½ tablespoon of salt. Add parsnips and mix.
In the meantime, boil water to make hard-boiled eggs or simply use an egg maker.
Add celeriac root, celery, carrot tops, fresh parsley and 8 cups of water.
Once the liquid comes to a gentle simmer, season with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Close the lid, partially, and lower the heat to low. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
Remove and discard carrot tops, celery, and parsley. Add roughly chopped spinach and thinly sliced scallions. Alternatively, you can use a 5 oz clamshell of baby spinach. It will seem like a lot of spinach but it shrinks in size quickly. Season with the remaining ½ tablespoon of salt and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat, squeeze juice from half of a large lemon. Lastly, add sliced or diced hard-boiled eggs. This egg slicer is great for this. Gently mix and ready to serve.
Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and some fresh dill.
Vegetarian Green Borscht (Spinach Soup)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 medium yellow potatoes, cubed
- 3 - 5 carrots , scrubbed and sliced
- 3 - 5 stalks carrot tops (optional), cleaned
- 2 parsnips (optional), sliced
- 2 celery stalks, cut in half
- ¼ cup celeriac root (optional), peeled and cubed
- 3-5 whole parsley, stems and leaves
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bunch or clamshell spinach , chopped
- 3 scallions, sliced into thin circles
- 3 eggs, hard-boiled and diced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup dill, chopped
- sour cream , for serving
- In a large pot or a 4.5-quart Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pot.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, stir periodically. Cook for about 7 minutes or until vegetables look slightly softened. Season with ½ tablespoon of salt.
- Add celeriac root, celery, carrot tops, parsley and 8 cups of water.
- Allow the liquid to come to a gentle simmer. Season with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Close the lid, partially. Lower the heat to low. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender about 30 minutes. Remove and discard parsley, carrot tops and celery.
- In the meantime, make hard-boiled eggs. Add eggs to a small pot, cover eggs with cool water and place on the stovetop over medium/ high heat. Cover the pot and let the water come to a rolling boil. Once the water reached this point, cook eggs for about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat, drain the water. Run the pot under cold water to stop the cooking process. Once the eggs have cooled down, dry and peel the shells.
- Add spinach and scallions, and the remaining ½ tablespoon of salt. Squeeze juice from half a large lemon. Continue cooking for about 3 min. Turn off the heat and add sliced or diced eggs.
- When serving, ladle soup into a bowl, add a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh dill.