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Simple Version of Borscht Recipe

Course: Appetizer
Total Time: Under 1 Hour
Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: Inexpensive
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Simple Version of Borscht

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

There are dozens of recipes for borscht—from simple vegetable soups with a couple of chopped beets thrown in to complicated whole-meal affairs made with pork, beef, sausages, and even ducks. More traditional recipes also call for a few tricky ingredients. Some of these recipes call for fermenting the beets a couple of days in advance, while others call for kvass, a kind of rye beer that means a trip to a Polish or Russian market or making it yourself. In Polish markets kvass is called zur naturalny.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-size onions, finely chopped
  • 4 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 medium-size turnip, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound fresh trimmed or 3¼-pound drained canned beets, cut into ¼-inch dice, 2 cups
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar or to taste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sour cream or crème fraîche
  • Chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Slices of black bread


MELT the butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables soften. (If you’re using canned beets, add them after the other vegetables have softened.)

ADD the beef broth and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Reach in with a spoon and sample a few of the vegetables to make sure they have softened thoroughly.

SPRINKLE in the wine vinegar to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

SERVE in hot bowls. Pass the sour cream, chopped dill, and sliced black bread at the table.

SUGGESTIONS AND VARIATIONS You can turn this simple borscht into a puree or a simple cream soup by putting it in a blender and straining it—and, if you like, finishing it with a cup of heavy cream. In the summer, cold pureed borscht makes a delightful cold soup. (See also the cream of beet soup .)

© 2001 James Peterson

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.

Nutritional information does not include sour cream or slices of black bread.

158kcal (8%)
80mg (8%)
17mg (28%)
100mcg RAE (3%)
15mg (5%)
756mg (32%)
4g (19%)
6g (10%)
2mg (13%)

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