Russian Beef Borscht

The list of foods, that make me as happy as a bowl of borscht, is short. Let me start by saying, that I love beats, in any form, and like any good Russian, I love borscht, obviously :p. Borscht makes me think of my mom, grandma, home and large family gatherings. I started cooking my mom’s borscht back in college, using her “secret” recipe. I’ve gotten better at it over the years but I still think that her borscht is better. The thing about this soup, is that there is no one exact way to make it and exact proportions are hard to pin down. It’s definitely one of those, “you know when it tastes right”, recipes. I did my best to put measurements to this recipe, but if it doesn’t seem right add more or less. In the pictures the proportions may seem quite large, that’s because I cook for a small army.  Of one.  His name is Will. veggies beets A few things you should know before you jump in your car and run out for ingredients. This is a lot easier to do if you have a food processor with a grater attachment. Grating carrots and beets by hand, high on the list of things I don’t like doing in the kitchen. It helps to have a really large pot: doing a small pot of borscht is hard. Lastly the soup is great when done using just water (vegetarian), chicken stock or beef stock, but I think its best if you make your own stock using a beef shank or chicken. Here is what you need to do: Recipe by my Mom adapted by me.  


1 hour

1 hour

2 hours


  • Ingredients:
  • 2-3 large beets, grated
  • 3-4 large carrots, grated
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small head of cabbage or ½ of a big one
  • 1-2 potatoes (depending on size, I don’t like it when it has a lot of potatoes)
  • 1 lbs Beef shank (this is up to you, traditionally it has meat), usually my mom buys something on the bone so when cooked it falls of in chunks and can be left in the soup, the bone give the broth the best flavor.
  • ketchup
  • sugar


  1. Directions:
  2. Place the beef shank, put in a stock pot with water, the amount of water depends on how much soup you want. I usually do about 8 cups. Let that cook until the meat is soft and tender, take it out of the broth together with the bone. Leave the broth simmering
  3. Cube the potato and put it in the simmering broth, let it cook while you do the rest
  4. Grate your beets and carrots
  5. Finely chop your onion
  6. Throw onion into a pan with oil and let cook for 10-20 minutes on medium to low heat, I let them get a little on the crispy side
  7. Add the beets and carrots, sauté the beets, carrots and onions together until soft, add salt pepper and before taking them off the fire, add 1-2 tablespoons of ketchup and mix in.
  8. Finally chop up with cabbage, basically it should be ribbons.
  9. Check the potatoes, they should be almost cooked, add the beets and carrot mixture, your broth should turn magenta.
  10. Then add the cabbage, salt and pepper to taste, let simmer
  11. At this point, my mom and I will both do the following: we take a couple more tablespoons of ketchup with a tablespoon of sugar and heat it up in the pan. Add the bubbly mixture to the soup…magic ingredient, just totally makes the flavor amazing, can’t explain it. Depending on the amount of soup I'm making, I will double or triple this amount.
  12. Lastly take the meat of the bone, chop it up into bite size chunks and into the soup and take the soup of the heat.
  13. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh dill if you are fancy, but you must have the sour cream!

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