October 17, 2015


For me, borscht conjures images of the Russian steppes, a snappy cold autumn wind, the musty smell of a root cellar, warmth in the belly, and a grandmother’s love. It’s a soup made for this time of year with the sweetness of good hearty vegetables just harvested – cabbage, beets, carrots – and the sourness of apple cider vinegar straight from laden orchards. In fact sweet and sour is one of its signature qualities going back to its slavic origins when it was known as *bŭrščǐ  which means hogweed. Hogweed was the soup’s original ingredient before it was replaced with other vegetables and then brought to North America by Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. I like that the recipe was featured in the Domostroy, a 16th-century Russian compendium of “moral rules and homemaking advice” where it notes, as an essential part of the recipe, “for the Lord’s sake, to share it with those in need.” I got the basis for the version below from Liz at Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre who fortunately took that advice and shared it with me.


3 tbsps olive oil

2 large onions, sliced finely

3 cloves garlic, minced

seasoning – caraway, dill, fennel seeds, myrtle, or whatever tickles your fancy

2 medium carrots, grated

3 large beets, grated

1 small head of red cabbage, sliced finely

sea salt and pepper

6 cups veggie or smoked cabbage stock 

2 tbsps apple cider vinegar

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add seasoning – seeds or ground spices. Sauté for a minute or two being careful not to burn them. Add carrots, beets, cabbage and a bit of sea salt and pepper on top. Cover with stock, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Let simmer until vegetables are tender, 20 – 30 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and season to taste.

One Response to “borscht”

  1. Liz Frost Says:

    So glad you enjoyed it! I love this soup – it’s so colourful and hearty. With a heavier bread it’s an awesome fall dinner!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: