Bernie's beetroot-soup

Bernie's beetroot soup is just the traditional Polish borscht made alternatively with a chicken-bones broth.

Rich in phytochemicals and fibre it is the perfect nourishment for those with bowel ailments; betaines, flavonoids and polyphenols.

It is also rich in nitrate, proven to lower blood-pressure but only in the hypertensive person[1].

borscht with sour cream and dill

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 9th July, 2021.

Notice incidentally that this is cooked on an induction-stove; a wonderful inexpensive innovation for any kitchen, it uses half the electricity and heats at twice the speed.

I have had a love affair with beetroot dishes ever since I discovered, after years of misery, that its soluble-fibre was the cure for my miserable chronic constipation. Whenever I get gummed up these days, I know where to turn.

Follow it up with Helen's fifteen-euro salad, and perhaps stewed prunes for breakfast and I guarantee the rabbit pellets will be a thing of the past.

We always keep our chicken bones in the freezer, and then make up the stock; it is very strong so you must dilute it several times. Hopefully you have a pressure cooker; in half an hour you will have the wonderful benefits of this anti-inflammatory medicine to add to the flavour; that is proven information from Harvard, incidentally.

And don't discard the stalk, known as the petiole in botanical terms, and the leaves. They have the richest amount of nitrate, even more than the tuber, proven to help with blood-vessel disease.


  • Half a dozen medium-sized beets
  • Small bunch of beet-greens
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 chopped parsnip
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken bone broth
  • Large pat of butter to saute the onion
  • 1/3 of the pulp of a lemon; get the pips out.
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cream
  • Salt, pepper, fine chopped dill and sour-cream for a topping.
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spices.

You'll often find recipes recommending vinegar. It is much nicer with lemon juice.

Bernie's beetroot soup in pressure cooker

Pressure cook the beets for fifteen-minutes, cool them and then peel off their skins which you can discard. Add your choice of mixed spices, salt and pepper, and set aside whilst you prepare the other vegetables.

The stalk that connects the leaf to tuber has the highest amount of nitrate, followed by the beet-greens themselves; if young you certainly must include them.

  1. Saute the chopped-onion lightly in the butter.
  2. Add the chopped-vegetables and spices, minus the tomato, and saute further for a few minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable or chicken bones broth and simmer for 15-minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and boil gently until all the vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the beet-greens and young stalks.
  6. Add the beetroot and simmer for another five-minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. After removing the cinnamon, add the pulp of a third of a lemon, and puree using a stick-blender. 
  8. Taste. Does it need another dribble of lemon-juice?
  9. Pour into the soup plates, and add a dollop of sour-cream and garnish with the chopped dill, green coriander or rocket.

It is just as good hot or cold.

This is not just a matter of inconvenience. Chronic constipation is the underlying cause of many serious bowel conditions including colorectal-disease, and is certainly a factor in acute lower back pain.

Bearing down to pass the stool is not just agony but will also certainly aggravate a slipped-disc; that is the DC speaking.

Borscht is usually a vegetable dish but I often make it with our chicken-bone broth. I abhor throwing away all the pulp when making a veggie stock; that is where more than half the goodies are found.

Just compare OJ from a carton and freshly-squeezed orange juice including the pulp; chalk and cheese.

The traditionally used vegetables in your borscht would be onion, carrots and celery; tomato and a parsnip too. Add some lemon or lime juice and sour-cream.

Now you have that tantalising sweet and sour-taste.

Some recipes use red wine instead of vinegar; I have yet to try it, but it sounds good. Today I'm going to add only lemon-juice.

If the beets are young enough, they have plenty of sweetness; no added sugar, or perhaps just a teaspoon of honey is necessary. Use your favourite spices and some fresh-dill and you will have Bernie's beetroot soup.

A pressure cooker means cutting the time by two-thirds; perfect for the busy chef, and a nice little saving on your electricity bill; and your carbon footprint. If you potter around my Bernard Preston site, you will soon realise both are big on my agenda; I worry that our pristine world will not be there for our grandchildren to enjoy as we have.

I hope that bothers you too; stuff the kids is what most people actually practise, even if they say differently. Actions count for more than words.

Bernie's beetroot soup

"Anyone who tells a lie does not have a pure-heart, and cannot make a good soup."

- Ludwig van Beethoven

Bernie's beetroot soup raw vegetables in pot

Bernie's beetroot soup is for something very easy to make, but a little different. I would lay even money on you never having enjoyed it before.

My choice of spice is a stick of cinnamon which should be removed before liquidising; and a few whole-cloves perhaps.

And maybe a little allspice and a touch of cumin would be to your liking. You choose your favourites.


Borscht vegetables simmering in stock

Whilst not wanting to get neurotic about your borscht, it is a good idea to count the coloured-foods you enjoy daily, but only now and again. There is strong research showing that the phytochemicals in our meals prevent a host of diseases; how many does Bernie's beetroot soup have?

Borscht vegetables and tomatoes simmering

Induction cooktop-stoves are so quick.

Following a large group of people over twenty years, scientists found that those enjoying seven or eight coloured foods every day had a 35% lower all-cause of death; that is massive.

Bernie's soup has beta carotenes in the beets, lutein in the greens and more phytochemicals in the carrots; then there is anti-tumour falcarinol in parsnips, allicin in the onion and lycopene in the tomatoes. 

In short, borscht is a medicine chest of phytochemicals and fibre, not to mention the vitamins and minerals.

Coriander is a favourite herb in our garden; it grows like a weed.

Rocket is another.

Borscht with cream being blended


Bernie's beetroot soup is a wonderful concoction of fibre that, enjoyed regularly, will deal with the most stubborn constipation. Remember it is the prime cause of colo-rectal malignant disease; that is no small beer. Those polysaccarides are also the food that the friendly bugs in our intestines must have to feed on.

Beets including the greens together with Helen's fifteen euro salad, and stewed-prunes for breakfast totally cured me of years of misery.

Increased insulin sensitivity

Phytonutrients, in particular polyphenols, found in colourful fruit and vegetables have been shown to increase insulin-sensitivity.

Type-2 diabetes is caused by lowered sensitivity of the cells in the body to insulin; they are unable to "phosphorylate" with the result that sugars remain in the blood stream raising the spectre of T2D.

For example hesperidin, a polyphenol found in all citrus, regulates insulin signalling pathways, also producing nitric oxide which lowers systolic blood pressure[2].

Kidney and cardiovascular events

It has long been known that dietary nitrates from foods such as beetroot and dark-green leafy vegetables reduce blood pressure; and consequently kidney and heart conditions.

Stunning new research[3] has found that the adverse effects in the kidneys of invasive blood vessel testing using contrast were drastically reduced by 70% after a 5-day course of dietary inorganic nitrate. Previously up to a half of patients with diabetes, heart failure and preexisting kidney disease developed this nephropathy.

What's more is that renal function, all-cause mortality and the risk of myocardial infarction were all significantly lower during the next twelve months.

Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) following testing after a heart attack is a serious problem. The protection afforded by dietary nitrates suggests that we all should be eating dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis.

"Inorganic nitrate reduced contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) improved renal outcomes and reduced heart events compared to placebo in patients at risk of kidney injury undergoing angiography for acute coronary syndrome."

- American College of Cardiology

Whilst researchers give dietary nitrates the credit for this amazing protection against kidney failure, it's not improbably that high levels of betaine in beets and dark green leafy vegetables may also play a role; this vitamin-like nutrient helps to reduce toxic homocysteine.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Researchers have found that low iron levels are associated with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease. That's another good reason to enjoy Bernie's Beetroot Soup regularly.


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South Africa