The high natural sugar content (higher even that carrots and corn) has placed beets in the forbidden category for many diets. However, upon further study, it seems that these earthy, good for you tasting beets are really good for you AND your diet as they can help cleanse toxins from the kidneys, gall bladder and liver. This is in addition to their potassium, vitamins A and C, magnesium, riboflavin, iron, copper, calcium and zinc content. Beets are a good source of fibre and contain antioxidant properties. The diet angle is that an overtaxed liver can cause a person to gain weight, especially around the middle, so anything you can do to assist your liver with the elimination of the toxins will help with losing weight. It is recommended to drink three to eight ounces of fresh beet juice each day. Maximum benefit is derived from drinking it in the morning, mixed with other milder tasting juices such as carrot, cucumber, celery, lemon or apple juices combined with freshly juiced ginger root.
My first introduction to borscht or beet soup was at Ratner’s Deli in Manhattan about 25 years ago. I am not sure that I tried it there but it made an impression on me so I bought their cookbook and made it myself. There are two versions of the borscht - one for summer and a heartier one for winter. I make the summer version and have tasted a winter version made by one of my friends.
Take care when working with beets as the juice can stain your hands, clothes, countertops, etc.
6 medium beets
500 mL (2 cups) chicken stock
30 mL (2 Tbsp) sherry or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
30-45 mL (2-3 Tbsp) dill pickle juice
60 mL (1/4 cup) sugar, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Crème fraiche or sour cream
Several sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
Rinse beets and cut stems approximately 8-10 cm (3-4”) from beet. Place beets in a deep pot, cover with water, bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until beets are tender.
Remove beets and set aside to cool. Reserve approximately 1-1/2 litre (6 cups) of cooking liquid. Peel beets and dice into bite-size pieces.
Return beets and beet broth to the pan; heat over medium low heat. Add chicken stock, vinegar, lemon juice and dill pickle juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir until sugar has dissolved and borscht is heated through. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and chopped dill.