Friday 26 April 2013

Spring borscht with beet leaves and nettle

I was pondering whether to make this spring soup with just the beet leaves or fresh nettle tips from the garden, had some suggestions from foodie bloggers on Twitter and then decided to combine two ingredients as an experiment. I love freebies, and nettles come into that category. This plant is a totally free foodstuff which is easy to cook and which has more minerals and vitamins than spinach and broccoli.

Russian vegetarian soup, borscht

Spring borscht with beet leaves and nettle 
2 beetroots, thinly sliced
leaves from 3 beets
a bunch of nettle tips (can't say a handful, ouch)
1 cube of vegetable stock
1 tbsp of Heinz tomato ketchup with balsamic vinegar (as my usual tomato paste has finished)
1 big tomato
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of black garlic (optional)
1 small carrot, sliced
1 medium potato, chopped
1tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp of sugar
spring onions, chopped

Start by peeling the beets and slicing thinly. Fry them on low in the olive oil with the chopped onion until the onion is translucent. Put the beets and onion in a medium sized pan, cover with water and cook for about 30 minutes (at this stage the beet still has a bite to it, if you prefer it softer, then cook for longer).
My beetroots were delivered with the other veggies by Abel & Cole, and the green leaves were so fresh and nice looking, they are a lovely addition to any soup.
Add the chopped tomato, carrot, black garlic, 1 tbsp of tomato paste or Heinz ketchup with balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, crumble a cube of vegetable stock. Finely chop the beet leaves, add to the soup. In goes the chopped potato, season the soup and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potato is done.
If you are using the nettle tips, be careful handling them, I was wearing the kitchen gloves when picking them   in the garden. You want only the tips, the first 4-6 leaves of each spear.
Use the scissors to cut the nettles in small bits. The nettles should be added a few minutes after the potatoes. Add the chopped spring onions just before you turn the cooker off.

It is a lovely spring soup, full of flavour and colour. Don't forget to add a generous dollop of the soured cream or plain Greek style yogurt.

If you are not a big fan of beets (and why not?), you can cook a nice green nettle soup with courgettes, leeks  and white rice.
The nettle tips are also fabulous in a green risotto.

If you liked this recipe using the nettle, you might want to see some of the other recipes with this ingredient. Now it's a perfect time to forage for the nettles in the garden, when they are still young and not stringy.

Soup with nettle and ground elder

I'm adding my recipe to fabulous foodie Karen from Lovage and Lavender blog's linky Herbs on Saturday.


  1. A SUPER recipe thanks Galina and such stunning photos too! Thanks for being such a wonderful supporter of Herbs on Saturday! Karen xxx

  2. Thank you, Karen! Looking forward to a new challenge, plan to grow the herbs this summer.