Russian Season


Russian, Eastern European and international cuisine brought to you by a mother and a daughter

Borsch, The Tsar Of Soups

Borsch is absolutely the king, or better say the Tsar of soups in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine. It’s red, hot, spicy, garlicky, and only a spoon of sour cream (Smetana) can tame it!

You can never have too much Borsch: make it in a large saucepan and serve in hearty portions. Borsch can be stored in the fridge for 2 and more days,  it will just infuse more and more.

Traditionally, Borsch is based on beef broth, but we’ve always made it without meat – first, because of me being semi-vegetarian, and second – just because we believe the taste of meat kills all the vegetable and spice flavours. So, try this vegetarian version of Borsch first and let us know if you still think meat is necessary here!


1 large beetroot
½ small cabbage
5 medium-sized potatoes
3 medium-sized carrots
2 onions
2 parsley roots
2 large sweet peppers (preferably red)
1 Chilli pepper
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
Fresh parsley and dill leaves
1 full tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon vinegar
Vegetable oil
Sour cream (Smetana)

Serves 8

Peel and chop the beetroot into small, rather thin pieces (max 1cm thick). Place them in a medium-sized skillet, add 4-5 tablespoons oil, season with salt, stir well and cook under lid on a medium low heat until you can cut a piece of beetroot with a fork. Add some more oil if necessary, remove the lid and fry on a medium heat for 5 more minutes. We also recommend that you drizzle a teaspoon of vinegar onto the beetroot right after you’ve begun to fry it – vinegar will intensify the red colour, turning your Borsch into a true piece of art!

While the beetroot is cooking, chop the onions finely (really finely!), wipe the tears and place the onions in a skillet. Peel and finely chop  parsley roots (Parsley root is just that essential secret ingredient). Add them to the onions and fry, adding oil generously. Don’t forget to add some salt here too, of course. The onions should be golden brown and the parsley roots should be relatively tender.

Or, you can fry the parsley roots separately, or even together with peppers and carrots. It’s up to you. This picture shows the beetroots and onions that we mixed together after frying.

Fried Beetroots

In the meantime, chop the carrots and sweet peppers finely. To give you an idea of what we mean by “finely”: take a carrot, cut it lengthwise, then cut each half lengthwise once again, and then cut it into small, thin pieces. The same goes for the peppers, as you’re going to cook these together and you don’t want any of the pieces to be under- or overcooked.

Place the carrots and peppers in a large skillet, add oil and salt to taste, cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat until tender. Then take off the lid and fry until some golden-brown edges start to appear. You might want to add parsley roots here too, unless you fried them with the onions. And, once again, better use red peppers. We used those light-yellow ones this time just because they were fresher. Add a full handful of chopped parsley and dill leaves when the vegetables are almost ready.

Peppers and Carrots

Vegetables and Herbs

The beetroots might be ready by now. If they are, just set them aside.

When all of the vegetables are ready, mix them together in the largest of the skillets you used, stir well and simmer under a lid for about 7 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them in large pieces. Potatoes should differ in size from all other vegetables, so don’t be afraid to cut them in really large pieces.


In a large saucepan, bring to a boil 2.5 litres water. While the water is heating, quickly chop the cabbage. By the way, I strongly recommend using only white cabbage for Borsch, as I’ve used red cabbage once and it gave the soup a weird purple colour.


When the water starts to boil, add salt, bay leaves and place the potatoes into the water. 5 minutes later, add the cabbage. Cook for about 10 minutes, depending on the sort of the potatoes: they should be half-cooked by the moment you add other vegetables. So, remove the bay leaves (unless you want to leave them as a surprise for somebody who’ll find them in their bowl) and add the vegetable mix.


Add tomato paste, stir well, close the lid and cook over medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are ready and the broth turns red. In the very end, just a couple of minutes before the Borsch is ready, add squeezed garlic and stir well.

Let your Borsch infuse for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with thin slices of Chilli, Sour cream (1 tablespoon per dish), and whole grain bread.


Borsch with Smetana

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16 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    The first picture is beautiful!!

    • Johnny says:

      Cantico semplice ad un goietnreClemente Ador Voler Benscenate e tempeste di incompatibilita’ di caratterenella scenate e nella notte degli innocenti,esseri umani rivolti al Signor Dio Tuo. Rivolgete pensieri, opere ed omissionial vostro dio dato che le notti lugubri sonstate vicine EDORA LA VIA DELL’INIFINITO AMORE VERSOIL PROPRIO GENITOREE’ VIVO E VICINO.Alla fine il cambiamento interiore erge fuori nel suo piccolo. Grazie.

    • God help me, I put aside a whole afternoon to figure this out.

  2. Oh wow, you guys make your borsch spicy. I’ve never tried that… sounds delicious :)

  3. Yuliya says:

    We’ve always also used sourkraut (in addition to fresh cabbage) for borsch in our family - I have no idea whether that’s something other people do or not, but it tastes good - it makes the borsch more “tangy.” I also don’t like beefy borsch so I make it with chicken. My American husband can eat borsch and dolma for days. :)

    • Alina says:

      Yuliya, I’m sure every family has their own recipe for Borsch. It’s so versatile. So no wonder you’re used to adding sauerkraut to your Borsch. I might try this someday too!! Do you have a blog? It would be cool to have a look at your recipes!

    • Alcides says:

      eh sec Letizia, io non riesco a magniare la carne con la salsa dolce, non sono abituata e mi riesce difficile forse con le prugne, anche con le mele ma con i mirtilli rossi che sono anche un po’ aspri proprio non mi piace Ecco piuttosto che andare a magniare all’ikea io andrei volentieri a cena da DB, uno spaghettino al pomodoro fresco lo preferisco Vabbe8 ma come ho gie0 detto io metterei in valigia sempre una pacco di pasta, per me e8 profumo di casa!!

    • asian says:

      Wait, I cannot fathom it being so straightforward.

    • Somjit says:

      I’m glad you are feeling beettr. Certainly for me when I need to take care of myself (which truthfully, is always I have a full time job, husband, and toddler I *can’t* get sick).1. Sleep. I aim for 8 hrs a night. Sometimes 9. This weekend? I napped all three days.2. Good food. I aim for 7 fruits and veggies a day. (I cannot even keep up with the tomatoes in my garden right now.)3. Tea and water. I have this caffeine addiction. I know it. I feel *much* beettr when I drink tea instead of soda. I also aim for 8 glasses of water a day.4. Exercise. I do this 6 days/week. I am training to run a 1/2 marathon, so I have to be *very* careful to take care of my body and not be too hard on it.5. Down time. Sometimes, ya just gotta blow off cooking something for dinner, make a sandwich instead, and plop down on the floor with your kid and do a puzzle. Or play with play-doh. While drinking a glass of wine.

    • erection says:

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    • Ger says:

      I just gave up caffiene celtlopemy it was challenging but I can honestly say after 6 days without it that I already feel SO much more better. I sleep better too as I go to bed when I’m tired (however early) and don’t use caffiene to keep me awake for a few extra hours. But I also wake earlier which is actually really nice makes for a nice start to the day.

  4. Anyse says:

    After living in Ukraine several years ago, I find myself missing the borsch! I think I will try this recipe, thank you for posting it :)

  5. Dasha says:

    I’m Russian and I ALWAYS add meat in borsch. So do everyone in Russia. This soup is supposed to have rich taste and be nourishing, don’t spoil it. Borsch IS NOT a vegetarian soup. I don’t know a person who would add this amount of garlic and pepper in borsch (it’s not actually “spicy and garlicky” in the sense some Mexican dishes are, and you have to remember that sweet pepper wasn’t common in Russia until 20th century), so this recipe is quite fancy. But nice anyway, thank you for posting it;)

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