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November 13, 2012 | Issue 426

A Better Borscht

Persian-Style Borscht

A culinary staple from Eastern Europe, Borscht is typically made from beetroot, which gives the soup its rich red hue. Beets are full of manganese, potassium and folate, a B vitamin that is essential for producing and repairing DNA and may play a role in cancer protection. Lean beef and a variety of vegetables add protein and other nutrients while seasonal pomegranate juice gives the dish a kick of sweetness. Serve hot or cold as a filling appetizer or a hearty meal.

Makes 6 servings (8 servings for appetizer).

Per serving : 250 calories, 11 g fat (3 g sat fat), 21 g carbohydrates,
17 g protein, 2 g fiber, 104 mg sodium.

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice*
  • 2 Tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. lean stew beef, well trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium fresh beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 3 cups Swiss chard, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, green part only
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
*If possible, use pomegranate juice made from the variety of pomegranates called Wonderful.


  1. Place pomegranate juice in non-reactive medium saucepan. Set pan over medium-high heat and boil juice until reduced to 3/4 cup, 30-40 minutes. Set concentrated juice aside to cool, then transfer to bowl or glass jar. If not using immediately, refrigerate juice concentrate for up to 1 week.
  2. In large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion pieces are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add beef and cook until pieces lose their red color, turning them with tongs, 6 minutes.
  3. Add beets and cabbage. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage is shiny and darker in color, 2 minutes. Add 2 cups water. Bring liquid to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add chard, cilantro, parsley and scallions. When liquid returns to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender but still slightly chewy, not falling apart. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. If possible, cool soup to room temperature, then refrigerate to chill, or overnight.
  6. Skim off any fat from surface of soup. Reheat soup over medium heat, covered.
  7. To serve, divide soup among 6 bowls. Spoon 2 tablespoons concentrated pomegranate juice into each bowl, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Grocery list

Pomegranate juice*
Canola or grapeseed oil
Lean stew beef
Red cabbage
Swiss chard
Salt and ground black pepper

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