Borscht – a great European soup and health saviour!

Balanced yin and yang, Borscht is wonderfully nutritious when taken Cold in Summer or Warm in Winter! Improves endurance, blood pressure and immunity.
Beetroot soup - borscht
Borscht soup - Photo by Julia Florczak on Unsplash

Key Learning Points

  • Take Borscht Warm in Winter or Cold in Summer
  • Science backs its benefits for high blood pressure
  • Good for immunity and endurance
  • Balanced between yin and yang

I’ve made Borscht soup from many recipes, but this is the Best. This is an Eastern European soup, and its basic ingredient is beetroot.

The dish is wonderfully nutritious and good taken Cold in Summer or Warm in Winter.

Beetroot is neutral in terms of Yin and Yang, and is neither heating nor cooling. So it works fine in both summer and winter.

This site aims to explain Chinese medicine in English!

So if, bewildered, you have arrived here by chance and wonder what all this yin-yangery has to do with soup, skip the technical bit in italics below and push on down the page until you get to the recipe, in my opinion the BEST borsch recipe around!

Borscht? Borsch? Borsh? Boorsh? Bourcht? Porsche?

No! Beetroot shoup!

Technical Stuff

In Chinese medicine the nature of beetroot is said to be sweet so benefits the work of your Spleen and Stomach.

It is a good Blood tonic and therefore beneficial for you whether you are Yin or Yang deficient.

Beetroot also has a slightly downward action, which explains its use for constipation. This downward action also imparts a slight heat-clearing action, without being cold, so makes beetroot good for Yin-deficiency Heat type, or Heart and Spleen Blood deficient type, skin problems.

If you’re interested in beetroot benefits from the Western perspective, see further down below!

Of course, please don’t think that one mouthful of borscht soup, or even one soup-bowl-full will solve all your health problems!

You might need more than just the one …

 

Where does this Best Borscht recipe come from?

I got this recipe via my mother who took me to stay with a very elderly aunt, whose companion was an equally old Hungarian, thought to have been a Countess in a former life, but fallen on hard times.

Whether she had been a Countess, or the cook to a Countess I never discovered, but this recipe is a Countess among Borscht recipes.

This borscht soup contains all sorts of different things, but no added sugar! The root vegetables combine to produce a greatly superior dish. Also, it is both vegetarian and vegan if you substitute the butter with another oil of your choice – and take non-dairy yogurt.

Best Borscht Ingredients

  • 500g (1lb) raw beetroots, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • If desired, I extra small, raw beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 2 large sliced onions
  • 2 sliced celery hearts
  • 1 medium sliced turnip
  • 1 sliced parsnip
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 25g (1 oz) butter
  • 1.75 l (3 pints) boiling water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Natural, unflavoured, unsweetened, bio-active yogurt

By the way, the fresh leaves of beetroot can be used in salads in summer or cooked like spinach in winter.

If you are Yin deficient, the time taken to prepare and make this soup is beneficial to your health, as long as you don’t hurry.

Borscht Method in cold weather

  1. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the vegetables together
  2. Pour the boiling water over them
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper
  4. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the beetroot cubes have softened
  5. Let the mixture cool
  6. Liquidise it or pour into a blender to liquidise. You may need to do this in batches.
  7. If the Borsch mixture seems too thick, add a little water, but not much because when warmed the mixture becomes runnier.
  8. [Optionally grate the remaining beetroot into a muslin bag]
  9. [Optional: suspend the muslin bag of beetroot gratings in the soup for a few hours. This improves both colour and taste – but I usually skip this step as the soup tastes fine without it.]
  10. Reheat the soup before serving. Ideally make the soup the day before you need it: this improves the taste.
  11. When serving it, add dollops of natural, unflavoured, bio-active yogurt to each bowl in the middle of the Borsch.
Advertisement

Borscht Method in Warm weather

  1. Put all the vegetables in a saucepan
  2. Pour the boiling water over them
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper
  4. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the beetroot cubes have softened. Yes! Borscht takes time!
  5. Let the mixture cool
  6. Liquidise it or pour into a blender to liquidise. You may need to do this in batches.
  7. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water or stock.
  8. [Optionally grate the remaining beetroot into a muslin bag]
  9. [Optional: suspend the muslin bag of beetroot gratings in the soup for a few hours. This improves both colour and taste – but I usually skip this step as the soup tastes fine without it.]
  10. Chill the soup before serving. However, if you have a deficiency of Stomach Qi or Stomach Yang, or are generally Yang deficientdo not take this soup cold: warm it first.
  11. When serving, add a dollop of natural, unflavoured, bio-active yogurt to each bowl in the middle of the soup.

Beetroot (Borscht) Benefits from Science

  • Improves exercise endurance and performance (see Circulation: Heart Failure Sept 2015) Andrew Coggan, assistant professor of radiology, said that about 2/3 cup of concentrated beet juice produced a very quick increase (13%) in muscle capacity in heart failure subjects
  • Lowers Blood pressure and de-stresses the heart (https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013) (https://news.psu.edu/story/341148/2015/01/19/research/beet-or-not-beet-researchers-test-theories-beet-juice-benefits)
  • Improves endurance and stamina (in one review, 12 healthy people, and in another 13 fit college athletes: both groups showed noticeable improvement after taking beetroot juice) (https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20806337/beet-juice-how-much-and-when)
  • Nutrients in beetroot help reduce inflammation, a problem in many chronic diseases and in older people (https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/greens/)
  • The vitamin C beetroot contains helps your body manage and fight infection better, and is beneficial for almost everyone with chronic health disease
  • Beetroot contains folate which is thought to lower the risk of stroke
  • The leaves, the beetroot’s ‘greens’ are, like many green vegetable leaves, full of minerals and vitamins and of course fibre. These help to maintain health in many ways, ranging from improving skin health to promoting regular bowel motions
  • The nitrates in the leaves are converted to nitric oxide: benefits muscle health and strength
  • A study done by Exeter University in UK showed that 2.5 hours after taking beetroot juice, athletes produced an endurance peak. “The amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beet juice; in other words, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace…) (https://www.podiumrunner.com/5-beet-juice-products-for-endurance-athletes_125691)

Warning

Beetroot contains a lot of sugar. Taken sensibly, one cup of juice daily, or several beet roots, should cause even diabetics no problems but if you are concerned, first take advice from your health professional.

What about beetroot, the ROOT, as compared with beet JUICE and POWDER?

  • Preparing the root takes time. Unless cooked it’s hard to eat and, for some, indigestible. And it stains your skin purple. So those are good reasons for taking the juice or powder. But …! In beetroot’s raw or cooked root form you get it in the form most people’s digestions can cope. It has the fibre, vitamins and minerals in their most accessible form: yin and yang balanced together.
  • In the juice, you don’t get all the fibre (well, often not, anyway) which means its downward movement action is less available, and the sweetness is accentuated. Although this may make the nitrates easier to eat and access, remember that the fibre has the benefit of slowing the digestion process and managing the sugar overload that drinking too much juice might produce.
  • The powder? Depends how it is produced. Some manufacturers cold-dry the vegetable and then pulverise them to dust – sorry! – powder, removing the water, thereby preserving most of the vitamins that might otherwise be ‘boiled off’. Whatever the method, powders are concentrated residues. That makes them slightly hotter – ie heating – in their action usually. And of course, they lack the fibre and perhaps other essential structural benefits – yin benefits – that occur with the root. So …
  • As a general rule, I believe that the whole root is better, even if it is slower to prepare, eat and absorb. That slowness, both in the eating, chewing and passage through your digestion, has other benefits, yin benefits, that steady and balance your system. 
  • You can take it raw if grated or peeled, of course.
  • Beetroot works particularly well in a soup known as Borscht!

Other soups for good Nutrition

Jonathan Brand colours

Stay in Touch!

No spam, only notifications about new articles and updates.

The latest books
Book a Consultation
Book Consultation
Acupuncture consultation

Book a Video consultation if you want to know more about your symptoms

Advertisement

Related Articles

Leg Stomach Channel yuan-source points
5 Elements or Phases

Element Acupuncture Points

Element points lie between elbow and finger-tip or knee and toe-tip. They hugely enhance other acupuncture strategies but some acupuncturists ignore them!

Read More »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *