Guaranteed to beat off the winter blues, this hearty beetroot soup is served with creamy mashed potatoes enlivened with crunchy raw vegetables. There are as many types of borscht as there are cooks in Eastern Europe. The soup is often strained and served as a clear broth, but this puréed version retains every gram of goodness.
Other delicious raw vegetable additions to mashed potatoes are finely chopped celery, grated celeriac, finely shredded red or Savoy cabbage, shredded Brussels sprouts and coarsely chopped spring onions. They all contribute extra vitamins and minerals. * Serve the borscht chunky instead of puréed, and add 2 tbsp hazelnut oil to the mashed potatoes instead of the yogurt. * Instead of spooning the borscht around a pile of mash, garnish each bowl of soup simply with 1 tbsp Greek-style yogurt, soured cream or creamed horseradish, then sprinkle with chopped fresh fennel or parsley.
Beetroot is a particularly rich source of the B vitamin folate, which may help to protect against heart disease and spina bifida. It also provides useful amounts of iron. The characteristic deep red colour comes from a compound called betacyanin, which has been shown to prevent the growth of tumours in animal studies. * Adding grated raw vegetables to mashed potatoes is a good way of including them in a hot meal, especially for children. * Fennel contains phytoestrogen, a naturally occurring plant hormone that encourages the body to excrete excess oestrogen. A high level of oestrogen is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Fennel also contains useful amounts of folate.
A, folate * B1, B6, C * iron