achan's tasty beet soup

  • 16 oz Jar Pickled Beets (reserve liquid)
  • 1/2 Head of Cabbage(red or green) cut into thin strips
  • 20 oz beef broth (optional)
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 4 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
  • 4 medium sized potatoes peeled and diced
  • dill weed
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • clean water

  1. Simmer potatoes until soft in enough salted water to cover the potatoes plus one inch
  2. While waiting for potatoes Prepare the rest of the vegetables as above
  3. On low heat in a LARGE pot cook onions and garlic until onions are more or less clear
  4. Add carrots celery and cabbage, stir, add broth if desired, otherwise just add enough water to cover
  5. When the potatoes are done, drain half the water away, reserve the rest, put potatoes and their water in the pot
  6. Add beets and their liquid, and vinegar, top off water if necessary so all the vegetables are covered
  7. Bring to a boil, simmer 25 minutes, Season to taste
  8. Before serving, in a heatproof bowl, mix 1/2 cup sour cream with soup stock gradually until the sour cream becomes warm, stir into soup
  9. Ladle into bowls, garnish with dollops of sour cream and chopped dill, serve with dark grainy bread and butter

Serves 6

Note: I was inspired by xdjio's borscht a couple of days ago. This recipe was improvised using two other recipes from as a starting point. I used beef broth because both recipes called for it, but the flavour of the vegetables is really overpowering, so I don't think it's needed. You can get away with just water but you'll have to add more salt.

My Ukrainian Baba used to tell my mother that borscht was good enough for the people and good enough for the cattle. In those days, however, no one would think of feeding good beet tops to the cattle. In the Old Country before the war, and even after coming to Canada and to the prairies, you counted yourself lucky if you had enough beets, carrots, potatoes and onions to last out the winter. Borscht is a basic vegetable soup with beets, but the special change comes from the addition of vinegar and sugar. Without vinegar and sugar, all you have is boring old vegetable soup.

If you plant too many beets in the garden, rest assured you can make borscht all winter long just like in the Old Country.

My Polish family's borscht recipe is one of the non-beet varieties, using a base of ham broth.

This soup is standard fare for an Easter brunch. It is probably the most unusual recipe in the entire collection. I feel it is worth documenting because it definitely has that old world feel. I have never had the courage to try a bowl.

You will need to make two quarts of broth. Depending on how salty the water from the ham is you may want use 1 quart of fresh water and 1 quart of water from the ham.

Strain the broth and bring to a boil. Add the vinegar to the broth. Remove the pan from the heat and add the half and half.

Serve in individual soup bowls and place your choice of bite sized pieces of sausage, eggs, ham, spare ribs and/or, rye bread. Top the ingredients with horseradish.

Pour the hot broth over the ingredients and serve immediately.

Stalks of celery? Potatoes? Pickled beets?! Nyet, nyet, nyet! This is борщ (barshch) the way Comrade Ulyanov meant it to be. (Although this is admittedly a bit more elaborate than everyday Russian fare, so no worries if you don't have all listed veggies or spices on hand.)

Fenno-Russian Barshch (Borssikeitto)

Ingredients Optional extra for meat eaters: around 50g of bacon or ham. (Finns actually like to add in chopped wieners to appease the kids, but I've always felt this to be a sacrilege of the worst sort.)


  1. Dice the onion finely.
  2. With the help of a food processor if at all possible (otherwise this will take you all day), peel and grate all the veggies.
    • Warning: Peeling beetroot is seriously messy and grated beetroot stains everything it touches. Cloth yourself appropriately, coat work surfaces, prepare everything else first, and once finished wash any wood/plastic objects before they permanently turn purple. (sneff even recommends wearing gloves, but the stains on your hands will usually rub off in a day...)
  3. In a big soup pot, fry the onion in oil until it wilts. Add bacon/ham if you wish.
  4. Add in all the grated veggies and cook, stirring gently, until the beetroot starts to "bleed" juice to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add stock, finely chopped garlic and thyme. Bring to a boil.
  6. Cook on low heat until done, at least half an hour and more won't hurt. You'll know it's close to finished when the celery root turns from white to purple.
  7. Titrate in the vinegar until it tastes Good(TM). Adjust with salt and pepper.
  8. Done!

The above serves 4 people as a full meal and even more as an appetizer. The obligatory accompaniments are sour cream (smetana) in a separate dish and Russian black bread. If served as an appetizer, you may wish to put it through a blender to make it into a pretty purple liquid.

Side Effect Warning

Consumption of larger quantities of beetroot tends to result in certain chromatic aberrations in your digestive byproducts. Rest assured, this is only a sign of gentle high-fiber colon cleansing, not impending death from anal hemorrhage.

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