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Vegan Borscht

By: 
Mark Reinfeld
Vegan Borscht
Vegan Borscht
Vegan Borscht

With origins in the Ukraine and popular throughout Eastern Europe, borscht has made its way across the Atlantic and all the way to the Catskill Mountains in New York, popularly referred to as the Borscht Belt. The base of the soup is the humble beet, which was immortalized in the book Jitterbug Perfume, and which will be sure to let your cutting board, and your hands, know that it was used in the dish. For the full effect, serve with a dollop of Vegan Sour Cream. 

A vegan or plant-based diet is one that is free from all animal products. Vegan foods are pareve by nature - without dairy or meat. The reasons people choose to enjoy vegan foods are many. First and foremost, they taste incredible! People also turn to vegan foods for weight-loss and disease prevention. It seems that every week there are new studies and testimonials published of people who have regained their health by dropping their cholesterol levels, losing weight, and coming off heart and diabetes medications by including more plant based foods in their diets. There are now numerous studies demonstrating that many serious illnesses, such heart disease, obesity, and diabetes can be prevented and reversed by enjoying more vegan foods.

Want to be Earth friendly? In addition to providing an out of this world culinary experience, eating vegan foods also happens to be one of the most effective steps we can take to protect the environment. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions -more than the entire World’s transportation industry combined. Others turn to vegan foods out of compassion and sensitivity to suffering of the animals, especially those raised through factory farming. Whatever your reason for having enjoying a vegan meal, there is no need to compromise on flavor - an exciting culinary universe awaits!

Ingredients: 
BORSCHT
1 tablespoon oil
1 yellow onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sliced celery
3 garlic cloves
1 cup small-diced potato
1 cup diced carrot or parsnip (or 1/2 cup of each)
3 beets, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
5 1/2 cups heated vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or other soy sauce (optional)
1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
About 1/2 cup Vegan Sour Cream
Black sesame seeds
Dill sprigs
....................................
VEGAN SOUR CREAM
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise or homemade)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh dill, or a pinch of dried dill (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Place a large pot over medium-high heat. Place the oil, onion, celery, and garlic in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the potato, carrot, beets, and vegetable stock and cook until the beets are just soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add the lemon juice and vinegar, the soy sauce, if using, and the salt, pepper, and celery seeds, if using, and stir well. Carefully transfer to a strong blender and blend until creamy. Return the mixture to the pot. Add the dill and parsley and stir well.
  3. Combine the vegan sour cream ingredients in a small bowl and stir well.
  4. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, and a sprig of fresh dill.

Variations

  • For an added layer of flavor, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste along with vegetable stock.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke along with vegetable stock.

Mark Reinfeld is the winner of Vegan.com’s Recipe of the Year Award for 2011 and has over 20 years experience preparing creative vegan and raw food cuisine. Mark was the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society’s 2013 & 2012 Summerfest, one of the largest vegetarian conferences in the world. He is described by VegCooking.com as being “poised on the leading edge of contemporary vegan cooking”. He is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, winner of Honolulu Advertiser’s ‘Ilima Award for “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i”. Mark is also the recipient of a Platinum Carrot Award for living foods – a national award given by the Aspen Center of Integral Health to America’s top “innovative and trailblazing healthy chefs.

Mark received his initial culinary training from his grandfather Ben Bimstein, a renowned chef and ice carver in New York City. He developed his love for World culture and cuisine during travel journeys through Europe, Asia and the Middle East . His first cookbook, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, coauthored with Bo Rinaldi and with a foreword by Dr. Jane Goodall, has won several national awards, including “Cookbook of the Year’, and a Gourmand Award for ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA ’. Mark's upcoming book, The 30 Minute Vegan Soups On! will be released in November of 2013. Mark currently offers culinary courses, trainings, and consulting services worldwide and online.