Comforting Borscht Soup


I was reminded recently of this recipe in The Nourished Belly Diet, and being deep January in Berkeley (which, yes it’s cold here, particularly because houses in Northern California do NOT have great insulation) this is the perfect recipe. Borscht has an interesting history. I had always associated Borscht with Russia, but it was originally created in what is now Ukraine, was made with a parsnip rather than red beetroots, and in later forms also had a bit of a tangy taste due to some fermentation. It’s a good reminder to add a bit of sauerkraut to add some tanginess and some healthy probiotics. Borscht was also originally associated with peasant food, which as I dive deeper into traditional healthy foods, it’s always those with little means that instinctively knew how to make foods that held deep nutrition.

The first time I made this soup, I was working on a farm on the central coast of California and one of my roommates was a Russian girl named Liz. Although she had spent much of her childhood in the Bay Area, she still had a strong connection with her roots. I’m grateful to her for helping me adapt this simple recipe. Beets are extremely nutrient rich, and their beautiful magenta color is a sign of that, although you could use golden beets as well. Beets are full of minerals, are great for the liver, and they add a natural sweetness that most palates enjoy. It’s hard to mess up, and you can throw in just about anything you have in your fridge.


(feeds 8)  

1–2 pounds beef shank or short ribs

1 pat butter or beef tallow (optional)

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 medium potatoes, chopped

2 cups sliced cabbage

4 medium beets, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

½ 24-ounce jar stewed tomatoes

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For the optional garnish:

(mixed together or separate)

½ cup minced parsley

½ cup green onions

½ cup yogurt or sour cream

½ cup sauerkraut



1) If using a Crock-Pot, before going to bed, place the beef shank or short ribs in the Crock-Pot and cover with water. Turn on low.  If using the stovetop, place the beef shank or short ribs in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1 hour.

2) Optional: Sauté vegetables for added flavor in a pat of butter or beef tallow.

Or, skip step 4 and add the onion, potatoes, cabbage, beets, and carrots straight to the stockpot or Crock-Pot.

3) Add the tomatoes.

4) If using a Crock-Pot, set it on low for at least 4–6 hours and you are free to leave the house!

5) If using a stockpot, simmer on low for roughly 50 minutes. When a fork goes through beets easily, it’s done!

6) Add salt and pepper.

7) Serve with parsley, green onions, yogurt or sour cream and sauerkraut, if using. Mix the garnishes together or use them separately, as desired.



How to Make Bone Broth

If you want ONE thing you can do to improve your health….this might be it.   Save your chicken bones.  Make your own stock.  Bone broth is one of the most amazing foods you can add to your diet.  Truly.

bone broth

Traditionally, bone broth has been used throughout cultures as an ailment for the weak and the sick, and throughout culinary traditions as a way of adding flavor and depth to a dish.  It’s a win/win!  In ancient cultures, bones and organ meats were prized more than meat itself.  They are the most nutrient dense parts of an animal, and therefore, the most nutritious for us.

Benefits of Bone Broth

  • High in Minerals:  Due to the current food supply and the American state of health, most people are deficient in minerals.  Minerals are just as important as vitamins to our daily bodily functions.  Bones are a power house of minerals, and through prolonged simmering, we are able to extract all of these precious nutrients.  Thomas Cowan, author of A Fourfold Path to Healing, suggests that adding bone broth to our diet is the fastest way to rebuild our mineral deposits.
  • An Important Source of Gelatin: Gelatin is extracted collagen and an extremely soothing and nourishing food.  It is an excellent digestive aid and it’s extremely healing to our gut, our nervous system and for our entire body.  This is the original reason that jello is served in hospitals.  Patients were served a gelatin based food, but in the words of Jessica Prentice, worker owner at Three Stone Hearth, the jello served nowadays to patients is a “toxic mimic” of tradition.
  • High in Protein:  Included in the large amino acid profile of bone broth are glycine and proline.
    • Glycine is necessary in creating glucose when we are in need of more energy and is vital in supporting our detoxification pathways (thus, cleansing with only bone broth is a great idea.)
    • Proline is essential for the production of collagen, which helps us maintain healthy skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.


Making Your Own Bone Broth

Making your own broth is less time consuming than you might think, and if you have the proper tools (i.e. a crock pot!) it is extremely simple.  First off, save your bones in the freezer.  Of course, quality always matters, so at the very least you should be buying organic meats with the bone.  You can also go to the butcher and ask for bones, they are pretty inexpensive for the amount of nutrition that they provide.

Once you have a nice bag of bones, you are welcome to mix them, but I usually separate chicken from other meats due to flavor.  Place them in a large stock pot and cover with water (preferably filtered) and add a splash of apple cider vinegar.  The vinegar helps to pull the minerals out of the bones.

Temperature and simmering length are important.  The broth should be kept at a simmer, too high of heat will destroy the gelatin.   I personally leave the pot covered on a low flame over night and when I am out of the house.  The only incident I’ve run into is when I left a window open and the flame went out.  Another option is to leave the stock pot in the oven on 200.  However, if you have a crock pot, you don’t need to worry about any of this!  A crock pot has literally changed the way I cook in the kitchen, so I highly recommend you get one.  They are inexpensive and for busy people, they are invaluable.

Ingredients: (Makes roughly 3-4 quarts)

1-2 lbs of bones 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped 

4 carrots (you can include tops) roughly chopped 

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves 


1) Place the bones at the bottom of a stockpot or Crock-Pot, covering the bones with filtered water.

2) Add the apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will help to pull the minerals from the bones.

3) Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

4) Follow the cooking times below: Bones should be easily crushed, this means you’ve extracted as much as you can out of them!

 Fish (keep the fish heads!): no more than 6 hours

Chicken: 12–24 hours

Lamb and goat: 36 hours

Pork and beef: 36–48 hours

5) For the last 4 hours of cooking, add the onion, carrots, celery, and any other vegetables of your choosing! Using a strainer, funnel the broth into jars. Freeze some (label with the date and kind of broth) and keep some in the fridge for immediate use! 


If the bones you are using have a nice amount of collagen and you've kept it at a nice low temperature, the broth should gel nicely when cooled.  This is a sign that it is gelatin rich.  Great job!

So get started!  Start saving your bones!  Or get a whole chicken and use the carcass.  I just used the turkey carcass to make an amazing stock….the holidays are a great time to try it out!


Cowan, Thomas.  (2004) The Fourfold Path to Healing. United States; New Trends Publishing

Fallon, Sally.  (2000, Jan 1)  Broth is Beautiful.  Wise Traditions. Retrieved from

Prentice, Jessica. (2006) Full Moon Feast; Food and the Hunger for Connection. Vermont; Chelsea Green.

Homemade Strawberry Coconut Jello


As a child, I loved jello.  The melt in your mouth, make you hyper jello.  My mother used to make a rainbow jello, which we took the day to make before bringing it to a party.  We would go to the store, and buy different packs of Jello Brand jello, all the colors of the rainbow.   Today, a box of jello is only about 80 cents a box, which makes it a really really cheap dessert.  But is that a good thing?  The ingredients on a box of strawberry jello are: sugar, gelatin, adipic acid, artificial flavor, disodium phosphate, sodium citrate, fumaric acid, and red 40.  So…  mainly sugar, gelatin, and some chemicals.

Jello wasn’t always like this.  It was considered a very healing food, because gelatin is a very healing delicacy.  It’s the culinary term for collagen, and there are many benefits to collagen.  In our body, it pretty much holds us together.  It gives our skin its strength and suppleness, and is an integral part of our bones, joint, and connective tissue.  It’s healing to the gut and considered to be a digestive aid.

I’ve recently started experimenting with gelatin in the kitchen and boy is it fun!  Instead of the packaged jello, it’s possible to make jello out of whole foods with very few ingredients, and just as much enjoyment.

I had a few batches of tasteless, rubber ball like batches, but I think I’ve perfected the recipe, at least to my tastes   Enjoy the recipe and I would love to hear about experiments you make!  Instagram tag me @thenourishedbelly or tweet me at nourished_belly.  Join the Nourished Belly community with #thenourishedbellydiet.

Happy Nourishing,



Homemade Strawberry Coconut Jello 

5 servings

Strawberry Jello Ingredients
1 cup strawberry puree

1 cup water

2 tablespoons coconut sugar or palm sugar 

4 teaspoons gelatin


Coconut Jello Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tablespoon coconut sugar/maple syrup/palm sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 and 1/2 teaspoons gelatin



1) Before you start, set up 5 cup size containers, I like half pint mason jars, so that you can pour the mixture directly in. 

2) In a medium saucepan, heat strawberry puree, water and sugar over medium heat until it starts to simmer.  Turn off heat. 

3) Using an immersion blender or wisk, slowly add gelatin and blend/wisk until fully blended. 

4) Pour into jars, lid, and place in the freezer for 20 minutes until solid.  

5) When gelled, take out and open the jars to prepare to pour the  coconut portion. 

6) In a medium saucepan, place coconut mik, water, and coconut sugar over medium heat until it starts to simmer.  Turn off heat. 

7) Add vanilla. 

8) Using an immersion blender or wisk, slowly add gelatin and blend until fully integrated.  

9) Pour over strawberry portion.  Divide evenly between the jars.  

10) Lid and refrigerate!  Should be ready to eat within the hour :)