Vegan Borscht Recipe, with Tempe bits

I first saw the vegan borscht recipe in the Soup Bible, by Debra Mayhew about a year ago and it was a huge hit in my family. Borscht is a soup of Ukrainian origin with beetroot as the main ingredient. This is a wonderful winter soup, but coming back from Hawaii to a cold Bay Area morning, this felt like the right thing to make tonight. Especially after spending the afternoon in the farmer’s market and picking up all sorts of wonderful, organic, fresh things. The whole family pitched in to make this dinner and the tempe bits are my little addition to the recipe to add a little extra protein to the soup and make it wholesome.

Vegan Borscht Recipe

Vegan Borscht Ingredients

Vegan Borscht Ingredients

I love making soup, especially the simmering part when the bouquet garni fills the entire house with awesome aroma. The vegan borscht recipe is pretty simple to make with minimum prep time. All it requires is a little chopping and the Vitamix or a food processor takes care of the final blending. Here are the ingredients for this soup:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 packages of Trader Joe’s peeled and steamed Beets, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 to 8 Criminy mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 organic cooking apple, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts of Organic Vegetarian Broth
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • Lime juice from half a lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the Tempe bits

Marinated Tempe Bits

Marinated Tempe Bits

I used half of an 8oz Tempe package, though in retrospect, we could’ve used the whole package. Crumble the tempe with a fork to separate the soy beans out. Sprinkle some Kelp Granules on the tempe bits as a marinate and set aside. Without the salt from the Kelp Granules, the Tempe tends to be a bit bland when added to the soup. We’ll be pan frying these at the end, when the soup is almost ready. If you don’t want the soup to be vegan, you could also use bacon bits. My kids like bacon a whole lot more than tempe, but hey as long as there’s a crunchy nutty flavor, anything’s game.

Preparing the Borscht

Borscht vegetables in saucepan

Borscht vegetables in saucepan

Place the chopped vegetables and apple in a large saucepan with olive oil. I typically add the onion first, followed by bell pepper, celery and then mushrooms, beets and apple. Stir the mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables start to wilt. Add in the vegetable broth and cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Since the beets are already cooked, this speeds up the cooking quite a bit. Add in the aromatics and the lime juice and season to taste. Add in the remaining vegetable broth until the vegetables are fully covered. Bring the soup to a boil, cover the pan and turn down the heat to a slow simmer. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Vegan Borscht Ready to Serve

Vegan borscht recipe

Vegan borscht recipe

While the soup is simmering, pan fry the tempe bits in olive oil until golden brown. Strain the vegetables and reserve the liquid. Scoop out the vegetables and process them in Vitamix or a food processor until they are smooth and creamy. My 11yo had a lot of fun with this one. Return the vegetables back to the pan, add back the reserved liquid and reheat. Check the seasoning and add salt as appropriate. After a couple of minutes, divide into soup bowls and add in the tempe bits. We served the soup with sliced herbed bread that we picked up at the farmers market. The kids loaded up their bread with butter while I stayed safe with Earth Balance’s buttery spread.

Here’s how we made this a whole family dinner. My wife got the beet chopping and the tempe crumbling. My 11yo was responsible for blending the soup until it was creamy as well as setting up the table. The irregular sliced bread? That’s my 9yo getting excited with the bread knife. We topped off dinner with 85% cacao dark chocolate and some wonderful pomegranate that we picked up at the local farmers market. I’d say achievement unlocked!


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