Як ви готуєте борщ? (yak veh ho-too-yet-eh borsch) I’ve been learning Ukrainian with Duolingo. It’s been fun and sometimes frustrating. The other day, the lesson asked me Як ви готуєте борщ? How do you cook borscht?
Here it is. This is a vegan borscht with a lot of flavour, and it’s pretty straightforward. I save time by using pre-cooked beans and pre-cooked onions. A quick steam for the beets makes them easier to peel. And, dill and beet leaves (or swiss chard) adds a fresh flavour in the middle of winter.
I’ve left borscht aside until now because there are a lot of Instant Pot borscht recipes out there. But, I think this one is special because it’s the version I make for Sviata Vecheria – the twelve-dish meatless Christmas Eve dinner. This recipe is even more special if you make Mushroom Vushka – dumplings that are added to the borscht when you’re serving. That recipe is coming soon.
I will admit that working with beets is tough. They make the beautiful colour in the soup. But, that colour goes everywhere in your kitchen. This recipe makes it easier but that starts with gloves – always wear the gloves.
A quick steam in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes helps with 3 things:
- You can easily remove the outer skin by just rubbing the beets – while wearing the gloves
- It’s easier to grate them if you’re not using a powered food processor
- The cooking time is ever-so slightly reduced
I use a hand-cranked drum grater for vegetables. For me, it takes up less space than a food processor and it’s less to clean up. If you have a real food processor, you can crank through grating beets without pre-steaming. But, getting the skin off can be more difficult. Peel the skins off while wearing the gloves.
Grate 2 carrots and 3 beets. The beets should be about the size of a tennis ball.
Add the grated carrots and beets to the Instant Pot with 3 quarts (roughly 3 litres) of water along with 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 large clove of chopped garlic, 1 cup of cooked onions and 3 stalks of sliced celery.
Cook this for 5 minutes with High Pressure using the Manual setting on the Instant Pot. With coming up to pressure, this is really more like 45 minutes.
Release the pressure and add the cooked beans, chopped beet leaves (or Swiss chard) along with the fresh dill. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to taste. If you’re making this borscht ahead of time, do this step right before serving.
Fresh dill is now easier to find in the middle of winter at the grocery store. This recipe is just as good with fresh dill that was frozen. Dehydrated dill can be a disappointment here.
Similar to fresh dill, the lemon I use in this recipe wasn’t really something that was readily available in the winter on the Prairies. My grandfather used to insist his borscht was soured not using an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. He liked “sour salt.” Sour salt is actually citric acid powder – available at the pharmacy.
There are many variants you can build off this basic recipe. I add beans to this borscht – particularly for Sviata Vecheria – because I’m also making Mashed beans with garlic. It’s easy to set aside some of the un-mashed, cooked beans to add into this. There aren’t potatoes in this recipe either. When I’m serving it with Mushroom Vushka dumplings, potatoes would just more starch. But, if you like potatoes, add diced or grated potatoes along with the carrots and beets.
- beans – like navy beans or kidney beans
- potatoes – diced or grated
- sweet potatoes – diced or grated
- tomato juice or V8 juice
- Food processor for grating, a Starfrit drum grater or a box grater
- Instant Pot
- Latex/rubber gloves
- Using Instant Onions saves about 30 minutes of simmering onions
- Grating the beets saves a few minutes of cooking time and makes peeling the beets easier
- With the amount of time to come up to pressure, I admit you’re not saving tons of time by cooking with the Instant Pot over the stovetop
Vegetarian / Vegan Instant Pot Borscht
- 1 cup chopped onions cooked
- 3 large carrots
- 2 large beets preferably with leaves
- 2 celery stalks sliced
- 1 large garlic clove chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 quarts or litres of water
- 2 cups chopped julienne beet leaves or Swiss chard
- 1 cup chopped dill
- 1 ½ cups cooked navy beans optional
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 can 355 mL tomato or V8 juice (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse the beets under water and detach the stems and leaves (if any). Set aside the leaves. Place in the Instant Pot on the rack insert along with 2 cups of water.
- Seal the Instant Pot and set to cook on Manual with High Pressure for 10 minutes. Do a quick release when the time is up.
- Remove the beets from the Instant Pot. Discard the water. Slice the celery and grate the carrots while the beets cool.
- Wearing latex gloves, remove the skin from the beets by rubbing it off. Slice the beets to fit your grater or food processor.
- Add the beets and carrots to the Instant Pot along with 3 quarts of water, sliced celery, chopped garlic, cooked onions, salt and bay leaves.
- Set the Instant Pot to cook for 5 minutes using the Manual setting with High Pressure. When the time is up, do a quick release.
- Add the cooked beans, lemon juice, beet leaves or Swiss chard, and dill. Add optional tomato juice.
- Stir to combine and heat through. Smachnoho!