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Hearty Vegetarian Beet Borscht with Lentils, Quinoa and Fresh Dill

Hearty Vegetarian Beet Borscht

Pretty much anytime I serve up a hearty bowl of borscht, I am again convinced it is one of the healthiest and most comforting soups to be enjoyed during the winter months. However, I enjoy it so much that I would never refuse a bowl, no matter the time of year.


I've prepared borscht on many occasions, but this recent vegetarian version of the Eastern European classic might just be a new favorite. The mighty beet is necessarily present, along with other earthy vegetables and some lentils and nutty quinoa to fill everything out. Dill was also a must for it's slightly sweet and bitter flavor, and included are also beet greens wilted in because I was fortunate to get a healthy bunch on top of the beets. To keep the theme vegan, I served up each bowl with a healthy dollop of cashew cream rather than sour cream. It's truly a meal in itself, but do serve with some chunks of crusty bread to fill things out even more if desired.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 to 3 red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water, or more as needed
  • 1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 large beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 2/3 cup fresh dill, trimmed and chopped
  • fresh beet greens, chopped (optional)
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in water, drained and rinsed
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 water, or more as needed
Instructions:
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until it begins to soften and brown slightly on the edges. Add the garlic, ginger and chilies and pour in the balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring, for another few minutes until the vinegar has evaporated.
  • Now add the thyme, oregano, chives, paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne if using, and bay leaves. Stir for a minute and then add the tomato. Cook for another few minutes until the tomato has softened.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock or water and stir in the quinoa, lentils, beets, carrot and potato. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer until the vegetables and lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more stock or water to thin out the soup if desired.
  • At this point, you may partially purée the soup with a hand blender, making sure to leave most of the vegetable pieces undisturbed so the borscht retains a chunky quality. Stir in the fresh dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper. If including fresh beet greens, toss in a few handfuls at a time until wilted. Cover and simmer for another few minutes.
  • While the borscht is cooking, prepare the cashew cream. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water as necessary.
  • Serve the borscht hot with a dollop of cashew cream on top and garnished with more fresh dill if desired.

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