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Because Central Asia is so cold, the people rely on culinary staples that are substantial and warm. The vodka helps, but a hearty root-vegetable soup like borscht gives the body a nourishing zip. First the beets are cooked whole to make a broth. Then other vegetables are added and all are cooked to make a colorful, richly flavored soup that gets even better the next day. To make cleanup easy, chop and clean the vegetables on a newspaper; to make the job faster, chop them in a food processor.
Put whole beets and water into a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
Stir in tomato and cook a few more minutes.
Add onion and tomato mix, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to soup pot, cover, and cook over low heat 1 hour.
Remove cooked beets with a fork and rinse under cold water to cool. Peel and grate.
Stir grated beets, dill, and parsley into soup; continue cooking 10 minutes to blend flavors.
Serve garnished with sour cream or crème fraîche.
Mind Refresher: Stand straight, breathe normally, and concentrate on your in-and-out breaths for 30 seconds. As your thoughts run here and there, keep coming back to your breath.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings and does not include sour cream or crème fraîche.
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