All across Eastern Europe, borscht is comfort food that is hearty, nourishing, and festive in color. In Russia, Ukraine, and the Balkans, recipes for borscht abound and can be the source of much culinary debate. Beets are traditionally the main ingredient of the soup, though recipes often include other vegetables, such as sorrel (a leafy green vegetable similar to spinach) or tomatoes.
Classic borscht often contains beef stock but can be adapted easily to a lighter, vegetarian-friendly version. The beetroot gives the soup both its characteristic color and flavor and if you use the right combination of onion and seasoning, the meat won’t be missed.
We like this Vegetarian Borscht recipe because it’s full of fibrous vegetables, which are beneficial for maintaining regular digestion during cancer treatment. The addition of tomatoes brings the benefits of lycopene, a potent antioxidant. The soup is also high in vitamins A, C, and calcium. A dollop of low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt adds additional calcium and gives the soup a pleasing creaminess.
An important note on beetroot: Don’t neglect the green, leafy tops. Beetroot leaves make a wonderful side dish, high in fiber and iron, and delicious when sautéed in a little bit of olive oil and garlic. They can be served alone or in conjunction with other sautéed leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, or chard.