Raw Borscht for Easter Sunday

by Gena on April 12, 2009

soup

Happy Easter, everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a lovely holiday (or not-holiday). Mine has been consumed by work, but I did manage to enjoy some of the sun today and a quick visit with my Mom.

I confess that the following eats aren’t today’s: none of my Easter dining has warranted documentation. But yesterday’s food definitely did. First, I met fellow blogger Hadley for lunch at the lovely Jivamukti café. Nestled atop the Jivamukti yoga center on Broadway and 13th, this café is terrific: all vegan, with plenty of raw options and generous portions. The atmosphere is warm and cozy, and the entire place is suffused with the smell of freshly baked vegan goods (or at least it was yesterday). The menu was universally tempting, but true to form, I was craving a giant salad. I got what I wanted: the spring salad, which was a mix of carrots, greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflower sprouts (my fave!) and avocado. Here it is:

jivamukti

It was a homebound Saturday for me. Being an editor means bringing work home, lots of it, and often on weekends. Though you’ll hear me complain about this, don’t be totally fooled: I’ve got a touch of the perpetual student in my blood, and I secretly tend to relish my studious weekends. I almost always relish domestic weekends, especially if they afford me the chance to fool around in the kitchen.

My dinner last night is appropriate to share on Easter not only because it’s tasty, but because it’s reminiscent of my childhood. Soup and Easter have a long lineage for me: I’m half Greek, as you know, and the observance of Greek Easter (which is actually next weekend: Greeks schedule their religious holidays by the Julian calendar, and not the Gregorian one) is always met with soup. The soup in question is Avgolemono, a rich concoction made with lemon and egg (the egg is, appropriately, raw, and it’s dripped in so slowly that it doesn’t scramble) and either vegetables or lamb. In my home, it was lamb, which didn’t go over so well with this little meat-hater.

Since I can’t replicate the delicious Avgolemono broth in raw form, let alone cooked—I leave that to my Mom—I decided to make a Slavic dish instead (hey, we share the same Church calendar). The result? Raw borscht. After perusing a few recipes on the internet, I improvised and came up with this one. And I loved it. It’s very sweet, but the sweetness is cut by the addition of apple cider vinegar, the creaminess of avocado, and the citrusy hint of dill. Together with my customary side of a spinach, kale, and avocado salad, it made for a rewarding dinner on an otherwise uneventful night. The recipe:

Raw Borscht (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 cup beet juice
1 cut carrot juice
½ cup orange juice
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (more to taste)
A sprinkle of pepper
1 small beet, chopped (or half of a large one)
1/3 medium avocado (so ¼ of an extra large one and ½ of a small one)

½ grated carrot
¼ grated beet
¼ chopped avocado
Sprig of dill

Directions:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a Vitamix or powerful blender, stopping to adjust saltiness and sweetness. Pour into two bowls and garnish with the chopped vegetables. (I always find that the addition of chopped veggies can make or break raw soups, which are typically smooth and in need of some texture.)

Before sitting down to eat, something my friend Cassie said about Thursday’s dinner occurred to me: she had noted that the cashew alfredo tasted almost like sour cream. This is a traditional garnish for borscht, and I happened to have some leftover, so I thinned the sauce with lemon juice and scooped a dollop on top of the soup! (Note to fellow food combiners: I find that I can mix very tiny amounts of nuts, like this, with avocado).

Here’s the finished product, in all of its crimson splendor:

soup-close-up

The salad:

kale-salad

And the spread:

dinner-spread

This soup is not only pretty and tasty, but seriously healthy. Beets are both highly cleansing and loaded with nutrients: the agent that gives them their incredible color is a potent cancer-fighting compound. They’re also full of choline, which lessens inflammation, and folate, which encourages healthy tissue growth and is great for expecting moms. Finally, this (like all raw soups) is rich in enzymes, making it digestible and nourishing.

You’ll notice that this meal involved both a Vitamix and a juicer. I don’t want to make a habit of posting recipes that necessitate either, since I think raw meals should be feasible without investing in appliances. If I do post a recipe that requires a Vita, a juicer, or both, I’ll always try to come up with an alternative for you. If you don’t have a juicer, you could use this raw borscht recipe, which looks totally delicious. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you could use juice alone and double the avocado (the celery should blend just fine in a standard blender or food processor). If you don’t have either, go to your local health food store or juice bar for some carrot and beet juice, and then use the blender or food processor instead.

I hope you’ve all had a good weekend, too—studious or social! I’ll be back soon with a special post on easy raw swaps—raw for cooked—that can help you push your diet in a raw direction. Have a great night. xo

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl April 12, 2009 at 5:46 pm

LOVELY!!

HAPPY EASTER, GENA!!

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Shelby April 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm

What a beautiful color! I love the hot pink =)

I love how you added the health benefits to the end of the recipe, thats always good to know!

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Gena April 12, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Happy Easter, Liz and Shelby! xo

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melissa April 12, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Glad you have a chance to meet Hadley. Jivimuktea always looks cute, but it is so often closed. Did you know that was a Matthew Kenney venture? Thanks for the encouragement. Today’s stellar run was encouraging, I just wish it would be spring with less showers already.

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Gena April 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I know. Eliot was right about April, wasn’t he? Don’t worry: you’re going to rock the race!

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Emily April 12, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Hi Gena,
This looks really good! I love that it has a thicker texture by keeping some whole beet and also adding in the avocado. The recipe I have is the Rawvolution one which is very tasty but quite thin (made of beet, carrot and celery juice with added lemon juice, garlic, salt and dill). I’ll add in some avocado next time I put it together :)
Have a great day,
Emily.

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ashley (sweet & natural) April 12, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Love how colorful and vibrant that soup is! I’m not a fan of beets, but I could probably be talked into trying this just on looks alone. :-)

Have a good start to your week!

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Hangry Pants April 13, 2009 at 6:30 am

Like Ashley, I am not a beet fan, but it’s so pretty I just might want to eat it all up.

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lauren April 13, 2009 at 7:10 am

Happy Easter!!! The neighbors next door to the house I work in always make borscht (or as the girl I babysit for calls it, Pink Soup). They always offer me it, and I tell them over and over that I am vegan. (they are in there 80′s, I don’t think they understand..lol). But the girl I watch eats like 5 bowls at a time! I might have to make yours. One question.. you are so good and perfect with your diet (I totally would of been tempted by the vegan desserts). How do you stay on track? As soon as I’ve eaten to much cooked food I am back on the cooked food roller coaster, but I can’t seem to stay away from it!

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk April 13, 2009 at 9:20 am

I’m so glad I FINALLY learned to love beets last year. It was the final frontier. This looks really gorgeous and I’m sure it was tasty.

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Gena April 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

Ashley and Heather,

This is actually a pretty good recipe for the non-beet inclined, since the flavor is as much carrot and orange based as it is beet based. But yeah, who cares: it looks SO pretty

Lauren,

Great question! Truth be told, I rarely, rarely craved cook foods. Occasionally I’ll see a vegan cookie or cupcake that’s tempting, and sometimes I’ll partake, but I also find that I eat so high-raw nowadays that those treats are likely to make me feel kind of crappy, and knowing that makes me not want them so much. They’re great transitional foods, but at this point in my raw journey I tend to focus more on dark chocolate or dates when I need a sweet fix!

As for what I eat in general: it’s true, I guess you could say that I’m a bit “virtuous.” Part of this is habit: I’m a very clean, healthy eater and have been for a while. Part is willpower: I’ve always had a lot of it. If I know something will make me feel crappy–ie, that vegan cookie I mentioned, or those smokes I still crave once in a while (stay tuned for a longer post on my experience quitting), or splurging on a shirt I don’t need to buy–I’m pretty good at just saying no. And part is because I manage to satisfy my sweet tooth in other ways: baked roots with a sprinkle of cinnamon, dark chocolate, the occasional frozen banana “soft serve” that I love so much.

(Have you tried that?)

Bianca,

I love that you just called beets the final frontier :-P

Gena

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Joker April 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Hi,
Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!

Have a nice day
Joker

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Nayang April 11, 2013 at 6:47 am

Has this really been a prolbem? I’ve never been in a decent restaurant that didn’t have salad and vegetable side dishes, like baked potatoes (guess you just have to ask if they use margarine or butter on the potatoes and veggies), not to mention pasta with plain marinara and rice. I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I’ve been out numerous times when I was dieting and just got a big salad or a vegetable plate.

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