Hot Borscht and all of the good feelings that come with it

My borscht recipe is adapted from one of the Moosewood cookbooks that I learned to cook from in college.  I did a lot of cooking during that time…..enough to occasionally wonder if I should have been at culinary school rather than at Sarah Lawrence College.  At Sarah Lawrence I had an amazing academic don named Ilja Wachs, who advised me on everything from my course of study, to my relationship with my biological father, to how to make a delicious borscht.  Just a few years ago (a full ten years after graduating from college) Ilja met me for tea and advised me on health insurance and my relationship with the wonderful man who  I am now going to marry.   Yeah.  There is no way I would have gotten that from culinary school.

Anyway, the reason I bring up Ilja Wachs is that he really did advise me on how to make a good borscht.  I was very proud of a borscht that I had made and I brought some to him.  He told me that the borscht was excellent but that it could not be a truly great borscht unless I used a homemade meat stock.  At eighteen I was a pretty dedicated vegetarian, so we agreed to disagree.  However, I am no longer a vegetarian and every time I make my borscht with homemade meat stock I think of Ilja.  Thinking of Ilja makes me feel lucky to have been taken care of and challenged by such a fabulous human being.  Thinking of Ilja makes me remember how lucky I am to have gone to a great school like Sarah Lawrence.  In short my Borscht makes me very happy and thankful.  I hope that this borscht will make you feel lucky and cared for and thankful too!


  • 1 and 1/2 cup thinly sliced potato
  • 1 cup thinly sliced beets
  • 4 cups home-made meat stock
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt (maybe more to taste)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 3 to 4 cups cabbage sliced
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh dill
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • sour cream and hard-boiled egg for garnish (optional)
  1. Combine the potatoes, beets and stock in a large pot.  Cook over medium high heat.
  2. Meanwhile in another large pot, saute the onions in the butter along with the salt and caraway seed for about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the celery, carrots, cabbage to the onions.  Scoop out 2 cups of the stock from the other pot and add it to the onion, celery, carrots and cabbage.  Cover and cook for 8 minutes.
  4. Combine everything into one pot.  Add the black pepper, dill , vinegar, sugar and tomato puree and cook, covered for at least 15 minutes more.
  5. Garnish with sour cream and hard-boiled egg if you like.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda says:

    Yum! Borscht always makes me think of Ema, but she called it beet soup. She made me feel loved and cared for too and her garden was AMAZING!

  2. Bethany says:

    Mm…I might make this. I was going to make swiss chard to go with some fish, but I substituted beet greens. Now I have beets to cook. Also, the vegan potato leek soup in the current issue of BUST is pretty good.

  3. Potato Leek soup sounds good. Bethany how did you make your little icon a photo?

  4. chintana01 says:

    I made this soup for Wednesday Night Drinking Club using balsamic vinegar and lamb stock. Spreading the word about it too. I think if you click on your icon, it will take you to this site called gravatar. If you make an account with them, you can choose a picture to use.

    1. Oh that sounds good! Lamb stock and balsamic is totally the deep winter version!

    2. adam says:

      i was there. it was really good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s