You probably have heard of Borshch as one of the most famous Russian dishes. But do you realize what a nutritional treasure it is?

My new friend cooks this killer borshch! After enjoying it, it strikes me that this colorful dish is not only delicious and invigorating, but also the perfect nutritional powerhouse. No wonder the Russians can survive on it for days!

“In Russia we eat it as a main dish for lunch, it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter. For hot weather, there is cold borshch; the hot one presented here is perfect for the winter. There are many variations. Some have cabbage, some don’t. Some have red beans or mushrooms. But the one constant is beets. The meat with bone, usually beef, is the perfect base to make a broth. But pork or chicken are used too. It all depends on how you like it.”


Nutrition and Color
Our bodies rely on many substances present in our food to grow, repair and regulate themselves: these are the micronutrients, electrolytes and minerals. We group them under the term “nutrients” for short. 
Nutrients, with a few important exceptions, are colorful. Eating by color is a guarantee that we’ll get many forms of nutrients.

Borshch is replete with nutrition. We could attempt to make a list of the nutrients it contains; but you just need to look at the color of the ingredients to understand it’s loaded. The addition of meat and sour cream  makes it a complete meal.


(Serves 8 to 10 as a main course)

  • 1 lb beef stew meat with bone (not too lean)
  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • 8 small potatoes (or less), peeled and cubed
  • 1 oz butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 red beets, grated
  • ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Bay leaves

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Stem Soup

Here is a great way to get nutrition while making the most of your vegetables. Add a poached egg and you have a delicious breakfast to help you start the day!

On Wednesday mornings, I get my vegetable box delivered from the local organic farm. This saves a little bit of trouble with buying all the bulky vegetables that our household consumes in large quantities.

(Talking about organic, remember that “organic” doesn’t always equals “nutritious”. Check the growers’ credentials and verify that their agricultural practices are sound.)

…and after.

To save time, I fill the sink with water and wash the vegetables in bulk. After drying them, I cut them up and pack them in plastic bags so they are ready to use during the rest of the week. (This also keeps the refrigerator organized.)

While I’m at it, I dice the stems right away, and throw them in a big pot as I go. The soup cooks while I am dealing with the rest of the vegetables, a bonus.

Stem vs. Leaf
Don’t discard the stems of the leafy greens. They possess as much nutritional value as the florets or the leaves:
– The stems contain more chloroplasts and the associated chlorophyll and carotenoids, they also have more fiber.
– The maturation of nutrients in the stem and in the floret are different and complement each other.


Stem 01
Fresh beet stems and leaves are good.
Stem 03
Fennel stem and leaves are useful too!

Most stems are edible. Absolutely keep these:
♥ Beet stems and leaves
♥ Fennel stems and leaves
♥ Chard, kale, collard green and all the leafy green stems in general.

(Carrot tops are the only green stuff that comes in abundance and that I don’t know what to do with. Apparently you can eat them, but I’m not sure how…)

Stem Soup

(Proportions don’t matter much, use whatever you have.)

  • Stems from leafy green vegetables, fennel, beets
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter or a few slices of bacon
  • bones (optional)
  • broth (optional)
  • other vegetables (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, spices, herbs

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Asparagus and Leek Soup

Spring is just around the corner, well at least in California. (In Minnesota maybe less so.) In any case, get ready to enjoy fresh asparagus, one of the many gifts of the season.

This soup is an opportunity to enjoy the first of the young spring asparagus. Choose medium-sized asparagus (neither pencil sized nor too large) and look for tips that are tight and free from flowering.

Although you can serve the soup “as is,” the cream garnish brings valuable dairy fats.

Asparagus, in addition to being a good source of fiber, has one of the most complete spectrums among vegetables both for amino acids and elements. Asparagine, a fairly common amino acid with a distinctive smell, is rarely found in such abundance as in the asparagus. It is a good thing to have because it is used by our body to make a variety of other amino acids.

For these reasons, asparagus should be a staple in our diet, not an exotic food.

Leeks, being sulphur donors, like all the members of the allium family, are good for the immune system, joints and cartilage. They have a very broad spectrum of essential amino acids (which is rare for vegetables), extremely low glycemic load and glycemic index, and some anti-inflammatory properties.

Efficiency, Completeness, Spectrum, Quality: all these words refer to the same notion: how many key nutrients are present in a given food? 

Protein – A “complete” or “efficient” protein source contains all 9 essential amino acids, in proportions suitable for our body: excess in any particular amino acid results in imbalance. Although our body can adjust within a certain range, it cannot deal with overwhelming imbalance. By eating a variety of proteins, we avoid stressing our body’s regulation capability. 

 Over-emphasizing “completeness” may lead to problems, though. Restricting your choice of proteins to the “efficient” ones narrows your options and impoverishes your diet.

Eating a large variety of proteins is a better way to take care of efficiency!

Fat – Fat quality is determined by the quality of its source: fat is not an isolated molecule, it comes within a whole matrix of other ingredients, and those must be healthy too. Healthy fats start with healthy animals and healthy plants.

Micronutrients and elements that have a physiological function in our body are too many to count. If you eat a restricted diet, you will forgo many healthy nutrients.

Serves 6

  • 2 medium leeks (white to light-green part only)
  • 2 lb medium-sized asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock

For the citrus cream (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

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Chestnut Soup

This simple, hearty soup makes a good fall or winter starter. Chestnuts used to be standard fare in the French countryside, most of the time cooked in milk for supper. The soup is extremely easy to prepare with peeled, pre-cooked chestnuts. It is quite an ordeal to make it with whole raw chestnuts, though!

Serves 6

  • 1 onion
  • 3 oz bacon
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon Brandy
  • 1 lb peeled, pre-cooked chestnuts
  • 1 qt broth
  • Crème fraîche or sour cream

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