Jewish Recipes/ Soup

Beet Borscht Soup from The Old Country

Beet Borscht
Beet borscht, made sweet and sour style with cabbage and potatoes, may be from the Old Country, but it is just as savory and delicious today!
Beet Borscht Soup

I don’t know what made me make this blazing red beet borscht. As a child I turned my nose up at it. I don’t even recall a spoonful of this passing through my lips or even close to them. 

It’s only in my adult years that I discovered that beets are pretty good. Yes they are very red, but they are pretty good and very pretty in all their colorful forms, be it  gold or candy striped.

Maybe it is nostalgia that made me make this. Maybe I just had to see for myself what this borscht was all about.

I will always recall the jar of beet borscht from Manischewitz,  kept in our fridge, specifically reserved for when my father came home for lunch; not that any of us kids would touch it. He ceremoniously poured it into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of sour cream and slurped away while reading the Chicago Tribune. Beet borscht, whether served warm or cold was a staple for him.

Beet Borscht Soup

I’m not sure I’ve told you that my father came from Lithuania in 1938 when he was 7 years old, aboard the Normandy, with his parents, brother and sister, while narrowly escaping the demise of their village. Most of the family was not so lucky.

My father is from the OLD Country-as he puts it- where I guess they eat food like red borscht. And potatoes. Cabbage and bread.

And my father had no toys! (So he always told us.) As a child I thought Lithuania must be a very cold place, because when I stared at the family passport photo, everyone wore heavy coats.

The Vineris family came to Ellis Island in August when wearing a coat must have made them quite hot, but let’s just say they wore their belongings. 

I presume they ate their beet borscht cold-because borscht can be had both ways. Neither was very appealing, to say the least, when I was a wee one.

Beet Borscht Soup

My mother told me that she used to prepare borscht for my father using meat-probably short ribs or brisket-but my mother has a thing for short ribs.

She told me she actually copied a beet borscht recipe from a Time Life cookbook that had gorgeous photos and at the time was too expensive for her to buy. Now I am curious what this book may have looked like, so I’ll have to peruse Amazon and see if I can snag a few copies.

So I made this borscht soup while baking hamentashen, which makes me quite the Bubbe, I think. Even though I am far from being a Bubbe;  my own Bubbe had 8 grandkids at my age-the oldest being moi.

I never ate her borscht either-but I do remember eating sugar cubes that were hiding in her cupboard.

While I was making this borscht Manservant poked his head in and said that it looks like I was making peasant food. Well…borscht is peasant food. It contains cabbage and potatoes and onions and yeah-beets.

I asked if he’d like a spoonful and he politely replied, ” That’s OK. I’ll pass”. Ah, I thought-more for me- which is what my mother probably said years ago.

 

And so it is, I made my first bowl of vegetarian beet borscht. I still can’t imagine eating it cold, but nothing beats a bowl of hot borscht on a cold day.

I may not be from the Old Country, but I’m proud to say that peasant food or not, those Bubbie’s knew what they were doing. Using staples available to them, they came up with a soup that has withstood time.

Thank goodness I’ve finally made it. I hope my kids don’t wait so long.

Beet Borscht Soup

More to try:

Chicken Soup Chicken
Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Meatballs
Matzoh Ball Soup
Onion Crusted Potato Kugel Casserole
Flourless, Gluten Free Passover Fudge Cake

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Beet Borscht Soup

(This post was originally published in April, 2016.)

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Beet Borscht Soup

Beet Borscht Soup from The Old Country

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 Minutes
  • Total Time: 2 Hours
  • Yield: 4-6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Russian

Description

Beet borscht, made sweet and sour style with cabbage and potatoes, may be from the Old Country, but it is just as savory and delicious today!


Scale

Ingredients

1 t caraway seeds (optional)
1 lb beets, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
11/1/2 t kosher salt
45 c chicken stock or veggie stock
1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes-cut into 1/2” cubes
1 1/2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped red onions
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/2” thick half moons
2 c chopped green cabbage
12 T chopped fresh dill
11 1/2 T cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 T of honey or to taste
1 1/4 c tomato puree
1 T raisins-optional
Freshly Ground black pepper
Garnishes:
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Chopped Fresh Dill


Instructions

If you are using the caraway, toast it in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly colored. Set aside. (I don’t like caraway, so I don’t use it.)

In a large heavy bottomed pot, combine beets and 1/2 t salt with 4 c of stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer until the veggies are fork tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer veggies to a medium bowl and set aside. Reserve cooking liquid.

In a heavy bottomed soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil and saute one minute. Add the caraway-if using-1/2 t salt and saute until onions are translucent about 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and cabbage. Add reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are fork tender, 10-15 minutes. Add the reserved potatoes and beets, dill to taste, vinegar to taste, lemon juice, honey, tomato puree and raisins, if using. Season with salt and pepper.

Uncover the pot and simmer slowly for 30-40 minutes. Add more stock if mixture gets too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar to taste. Serve in bowls, with a big hunk of bread and garnish with sour cream and dill.


Notes

Thanks Community Table

Keywords: beet borscht, beet borscht recipe, vegetarian beet borscht, Russian beet borscht, Sweet and Sour Beet Borscht, Beet Borscht Soup,

 

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  • Sissi
    March 19, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Beautiful! I also used to hate beetroot soup (and beetroots in general) as a child, but now certain dishes from my childhood bring back memories and my palate is no longer so narrow-minded. Thank you so much for sharing your family history. Dishes with personal history are so much more precious, even for complete strangers… Wonderful touching post. And such a delicious-looking dish!

  • GiGi Eats
    March 19, 2019 at 6:17 am

    Let us play the game NEVER HAVE I EVER.
    Never have I ever… Had beets before… Thus, never have I ever – had beet borscht before! 😮

  • Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen
    March 17, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    I loooove borsht! I love the bright color, I love all the veggies, I just can’t get enough. But I rarely make it; I’m going to remedy that soon and try this!

  • Kelly | Foodtasia
    March 15, 2019 at 5:19 am

    Abbe, such a vibrant and colorful soup! Recipes from the old country are such treasured parts of our family’s memories!

  • Susan
    March 14, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    I had to laugh at your comment to your mom 🙂 I guess we’ll always be children in our mother’s eyes. What a beautiful soup and I’d say I’ve grown to love beets but certainly didn’t when I was a kid either.

  • David @ Spiced
    March 14, 2019 at 6:57 am

    What a wonderful post, Abbe! Not only the recipe itself, but the retelling of your Dad’s story here is incredible. I felt the emotion in your words, and that’s just awesome. In fact, it made me go looking for that Time Life cookbook (I wonder if this is the one – https://www.etsy.com/listing/615030794/time-life-cookbook-foods-of-the-world). I’ve never had borscht, but this looks so intriguing to me. I’ve never been one to turn down a good soup, so I should give this a try…although it would have to be hot for me. The thought of cold beets in soup form just doesn’t excite me too much. Thanks for the post, my friend!

  • Jeff the Chef
    March 14, 2019 at 5:12 am

    Chicago? That’s where live! I love borscht. I used to make it a lot, but for some reason, I’ve fallen away from it. Thanks for urging me back into the fold.

  • Gloria Roa Baker
    March 13, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    I love soups and especually this with this lovely color, Beet is amazing!!! xo

  • sippitysup
    March 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Such intense color. I know it would be super flavorful. GREG

  • Holly
    March 13, 2019 at 7:28 am

    What beautiful colors! I still remember my first bowl of borscht soup that I was served at a friend’s house for a Jewish holiday celebration. I am sure I just sipped at it but now I am like you and have learned to love beets!

  • Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    March 13, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Thanks for sharing the history of this recipe. And I can’t imagine eating it cold either. But I have made this soup – once and loved it. And you bet, that dollop of sour cream is delish. Thanks for sharing Abbe.

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    March 12, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Good to see this post make an encore! When it comes to borscht, we’re ALL from the old country. 🙂 Love the stuff — and the color too. Guess that means I’m a peasant!

  • Eha
    March 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    Always had borscht and always loved it! Oh well, I am from Estonia and your parents from Lithuania two stops south . . . and I’m in age twist him and you . . . also fun !! As a child I never had the knowledge I could object to any food . . . well, I loved the beets but would sit alone at the lunch table with Father back at the Military Law Courts and Mother angrily moving around the house ’cause I objected to our chef’s version of spinach soup with long stringy leaves sticking to my teeth and the must-have half-hardboiled-egg floating atop, cold way before I stuffed it into my mouth and was allowed to leave the table ! But the beetroot one was yum and your recipe methinks hits the spot . . .

  • Healthy World Cuisine
    March 12, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    We have not had borscht in a couple of decades and now you have us craving it. Beautiful and bold and just pinned!

  • Anne Regalado
    April 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    The last time I had borscht was 2 years ago , I think , and courtesy of Mr Campbell's lol I like roasted beets but haven't tried it in soup yet . I bet if you add a slab of meat to your borscht your Manservant will love it 😀

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)
    April 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    I can't remember the last time I had borscht and yours sounds especially good.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:29 am

      Thanks Karen! Great and simple recipe for borscht!

  • Juliana
    April 12, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    I just had beet borscht once and I enjoyed it…I like beets in salad, and yet have to make borscht, one day I will get daring and try to make. Thanks for the recipe Abbe…have a great week 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:29 am

      It is interesting all the ways to use beets. Funny how I used to think they just came in jars! Thanks, Juliana!

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    April 12, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I also cannot get my husband to eat beets, even as much as I love them – especially roasted in the oven. I love every ingredient in borscht so I'm sure I would enjoy it although I've never had it in my life. Must go on my bucket list! I loved reading the exchange between you and your mom 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:28 am

      Too funny Susan! My newest obsession is spiralized beets. I toss them with some salt and olive oil and roast them until they are crispy. Oh man. These are divine!

  • Anu - My Ginger Garlic Kitchen
    April 12, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Wow! What a vibrant and healthy looking soup. Love how this is bursting out with so many delicious flavors. A must try recipe!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:27 am

      Thanks Anu! Let me know how it turns out!

  • Two Healthy Kitchens
    April 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Oh, Abbe, this soup is just lovely (and so are your fantastic photos of it)! I can't remember specifically liking beets as a kid, either – but at some point I had a little beet epiphany and now I like them a lot! I especially adore pickled beets on salad! But anyway … this gorgeous soup … I just love the list of ingredients! So much terrific nutrition and really wonderful flavors! I am so totally pinning this one! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:26 am

      This is a good one for you Shelley! It is delicious and wholesome and very nutritious! Thanks!

  • Pam
    April 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    It looks beautiful and vibrant!

  • Bam's Kitchen
    April 11, 2016 at 3:05 am

    My sister used to make this delicious soup all the time. However, it was never as pretty as yours so vibrant and pink. Good soup for between seasons.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:25 am

      Good for all seasons. Was your sister's similar?

  • lisa is cooking
    April 10, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I've never made borscht, but I love beets. It's such a pretty color too. I need to try making it!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:25 am

      You should try. I was so pleasantly surprised!

  • Beth
    April 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Like you, I hated beets as a child but have grown to love them. I had my first bowl of borscht in Russia and absolutely loved it! Terrific story about your family coming from Lithuania – they must have been so grateful to arrive in safety.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:24 am

      Very grateful, but I'm sure it was hard to leave. In fact, my grandfather actually tried to go to Mexico a few years earlier. He got to the port in France and actually ran into a man from his village who had just come back. Said it was to hot and so my grandfather turned around and headed home. He had a sister in Illinois, so she was able to sponsor him.

  • Sippity Sup
    April 8, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Beets are definitely "adult food". I'd go as far as saying they're one of the great things about being an adult. GREG

  • Cheri Savory Spoon
    April 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Abbe, I have not had borscht in years. We used to slurp it with a dollop of sour cream too, lools delicious, love the color.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:22 am

      Thanks Cheri! Definitely a slurping soup!

  • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 8, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I've never had but it sounds wonderful! I love the color and the ingredient list is perfect. I made beet hummus one time – it was very pink 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:21 am

      Great ingredients. I made beet hummus, too! I loved it, but not much of a hit with others. I don't know why!

  • La Table De Nana
    April 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Amazing color Abbe!

  • Joyce
    April 8, 2016 at 7:59 am

    We lived all during the 90's in Estonia and ate a lot of…..spelling is wrong but….it is called silianka and has meat. Sorry for the spelling but would love to have a good recipe for it. Here in Western NY our weather is so cold and I would love to make something different and then I remembered how we loved that soup in Estonia. YUM!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:20 am

      I've heard of that! This will surely hit the spot in NY! Thanks for commenting!

    • Eha
      March 12, 2019 at 7:20 pm

      Joyce – that us called ‘solyanks’ – you did well: actually it is my favourite soup and I am Estonian-born 🙂 ! But the soup is one of Russian classics !! Hope Abbe can oblige . . .

  • Angie Schneider
    April 8, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Wish my husband loved beet!! He would rather eat green kale than beet cooked at any form! I adore beets and this soup looks really tasty, Abbe.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 13, 2016 at 1:20 am

      Thanks Angie! Wish Manservant loved beet, too!

  • Kushi S
    April 8, 2016 at 1:44 am

    WOW! This recipe is loaded with full of flavors and something new to me. Looks super delicious and lovely color!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 8, 2016 at 4:14 am

      Thanks Kushi! New to me, too! And it was super good! Thanks for visiting!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    April 7, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    This may be a duplicate — delete if it is (I think I misclicked, and didn't hit the "publish" button). Anyway, beets are really good, aren't they? I really didn't like them when I was a kid (probably because my mom only served canned ones — straight from the can!), but I've come to love them. I usually them mainly in salads, but borscht is SO good. I'm in the hot camp when it comes to this soup, but I like it cold, too. Anyway, super recipe — thanks so much.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 8, 2016 at 4:13 am

      Thanks John! Now I guess I'll have to try the cold, but I feel happy that I just conquered this! And now I'm a woman! See 1st comment!LOL!

  • Liz Berg
    April 7, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I'll have my borscht hot, too! We've had rain, sleet and snow today—where is spring???! LOL at your hubby, mine wouldn't have even taken a taste. I'd be happy to have it all to myself.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 8, 2016 at 4:12 am

      Well, the weather was gorgeous here. I am so ready for Spring. Manservant didn't have a taste either!

  • Libby Weiner
    April 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I CAN SEND YOU THE RECIPE FOR THE tIME- LIFE ONE IF YOU'D LIKE. dAD AND I STILL LIKE IT. I consider it a MEAT borscht and the one from the Manischevitz jar a cold summer borscht. Loved reading this and the fact that you'd become a WOMAN when it comes to eating formerly verboten childhood foods.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      April 8, 2016 at 4:11 am

      Send it Mom, but I know I won't use the beef. Sorry! At 58 years old, I'm now a woman? And this is all it took?