This is definitely the most "special" recipe I've ever shared. I grew up eating this soup at my Czech (but she grew up in Poland) grandmother's house. She lived to be 100, and I'll bet this soup had something to do with it!
She would always say, of beets: "They'll turn your blood red." I think of that every time I eat this soup.
Her version had a big ol' piece of pig bone and flesh in it, and this one obviously does not.
While beets may not actually turn your blood red, as it turns out, they serve as a natural "blood cleaner" and aid with detoxification, helping the body to get rid of heavy metals, toxins, and waste. Beets are also rich in nitrates (not the harmful kind found in deli meats and bacon!), which converts to nitric oxide, causing blood vessels to relax and dilate. This allows for efficient delivery of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to cells - which can not only lower blood pressure and improve cognitive health by sending more blood to the brain - it also helps muscles function better, having the potential to increase athletic performance and stamina.
There are even more impressive health benefits to consuming beets that I'll let you research on your own. However, I want to tell you about how this recipe in particular can help you understand your digestion better. Yeah, we're going there: poop. Do you have any idea how long it takes you to digest food (also known as "transit time")? Well, here's a fun little experiment for you to try!
The Beet Test: Eat a bowl of this soup (or a large serving of beets) and take note of what time it is. Then, count the number of hours until you see them show back up in your bowel movement. The optimal time may vary, but generally speaking, 12-24 hours is considered healthy.
Remember, eating fiber helps keep things moving! If your beet transit time takes much longer, you are likely not eating enough fiber. In fact, most Americans are deficient in fiber, and the average food transit time on the Standard American Diet is 60-100 hours. If you're not having at least one bowel movement per day, it's time to up your fiber intake. Simply make it a point to eat more whole fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. I have plenty of recipes here!
Alright, hopefully I didn't ruin your appetite for this beet soup because it truly is delicious! It's actually quite simple to make, and is undeniably beautiful. It's perfect as is, or with a little swirl of coconut yogurt, or coconut or cashew cream. I know you'll enjoy this one!!
Beet Soup | Vegan Polish Borscht
5 cups beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2 in cubes
6 medium carrots, diced
5 small yukon potatoes, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
32 oz. vegetable broth
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 bay leaf
1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (start w/ one and taste)
*Finish with: fresh dill, vegan sour cream
In a large soup pot over medium high heat, saute the onion with 1 TBSP oil (or water saute).
Let the onions gently cook for a couple minutes until they soften and begin to turn golden in color. If they stick to the pan or start to turn brown, turn down the heat and add a spoon of water or vegetable broth to deglaze the pan.
Add the beets and garlic, stir, and let cook for a few minutes. Add the potato, carrot, vegetable broth, tomato paste, and spices - everything BUT the vinegar, fresh dill, and sour cream.
Bring soup to a simmer, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the veggies are tender (Instant Pot directions below).
Stir in the vinegar and taste, starting with less and adding as desired. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve with fresh dill, and a dollop of vegan sour cream (cashew cream, or coconut yogurt, store bought, etc.).
For Instant Pot:
Follow the same directions as above, using the Saute function on the IP (warning the saute function gets super hot so pay attention to those onions and add liquid if needed).
Close and seal the IP and set on high pressure for 10 minutes. When cooking is up, let it naturally release for at least ten minutes before opening the lid, and stirring in the vinegar.