Sunday, June 24, 2012



Is there any natural food more violently colorful than Borscht?

This is only my second time making Borscht. I made it last year after my friend Malina visited. Malina speaks Russian and has spent a lot of time in Russia, so we went to a restaurant called Traktir, which specializes in authentic eastern european cuisine.

The Borscht was AMAZING. Savory, lighty sweet, and tangy, garnished with sour cream and fresh, aromatic dill.

We eat a lot of beets anyway, so Borscht is the perfect addition to my repertoire of recipes for the sweet, earthy root vegetable. There are an infinite number of ways to make this dish — every region has its own method of preparation, including a Polish version that uses parsnips instead of beets.

This recipe is the result of research, experimentation, and taste-testing. Use it as a guide, and but adjust it to make a Borscht that is truly your own.

Scroll to bottom for full recipe

The star of this dish is, obviously, beets.

Grate the beets, and julienne one. Grate two carrots, slice an onion, chop three cloves of garlic, and peel and cut a celery root into large chunks.
Celery root sort of looks like a tumor that has been cut in half, only to reveal a fetal twin

Slice the sausage. Heat about 2 TBSP olive oil in a large soup pot (omit if using pork or beef sausage).

Brown the sausage on all sides. 

Remove from pan. 
Add carrots, beets, garlic, onions, celery root, and 1/2 tsp of caraway seeds to the pan. Cook for ten minutes, or until softened. 

Add 2 T tomato paste, 1 T paprika and a bay leaf to the pan and cook for two minutes.

Pour in 6 cups of beef broth and 1/2 can of diced tomatoes.

Taste the broth and season with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar until broth is well balanced and slighty tangy. 

Shred the cabbage...

Then add to the pan.

Cover the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender. Remove the celery root and bay leaf. Taste again and adjust seasonings.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh dill.

Full Recipe

3 Beets
2 Carrots
1 Celery Root
1 lb Cabbage
1 Yellow Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Package of smoked sausage beef, pork, chicken, or turkey!)
1/2 can of diced tomatoes
2 TBSP tomato paste
6 cups fat-free beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP Paprika
1/2 tsp caraway or fennel seeds
1-3 TBSP Red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Fat Free Sour Cream
Dill, for garnish

Peel the beets and grate 2 of them on the largest side of a box grater. Julienne the remaining beet (this adds another dimension of texture to the dish).

Peel and grate the carrots.

Peel the celery root, then cut in large chunks. This will just be used to flavor the broth, then discarded before eating.

Cut the onion into slices.

Roughly chop 3 cloves of garlic.

Shred the cabbage.

Cut the sausage into 1/2" thick medallions. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large soup pot, and brown the sausage on both sides. Removed from pot.

Add garlic, onion, carrot, caraway seeds, beet and celery root to pan. Cook ten minutes, or until softened.

Add tomatoe puree and paprika. Cook about two minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil and taste broth. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste. The broth should be savory, lightly sweet, and have a slight tang from the vinegar.

Add the cabbage and cook until all vegetables are tender.

Remove celery root and bay leaf. Taste again and adjust seasoning.

Serve with a dollop of sour creap and some chopped fresh dill. Can also be served chilled.


  1. In Poland, we call this soup 'barszcz', but the way it sounds is the same. Barszcz is the most important dish during the Chtistmas Eve and in my country it is impossible to prepare it with a sausage. No meat. The most important ingredients are beets and we start to cook it at least 3 days before serving. This way it tastes the best!:)

  2. I'd love to try the authentic Polish recipe!