Cookbook Profile

Vegetarian Borscht

Makes 19 cups ( 4.75 L)
8 Main-Course Servings


Vegetarian Borscht There are many different kinds of borscht. The very first recipe I wrote for print was an attempt to make one that my father spoke of . This borscht takes into account the many fasting days on the old Russian calendar and also the Jews who liked to use sour cream but couldn't include it if the soup had a meat base. The flavor is still so intense that I don't miss the meat.

If the beets are nice and small and the greens look good, wash them, cut them across into narrow strips, and add them to the soup along with the cabbage. A small, whole boiled potato can be added to each bowl of soup.


1 ounce (30 g) dried porcini mushrooms (cèpes)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound (225 g) white mushrooms,
   trimmed, wiped clean, and sliced 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick
1 large onion, cut into 3/4 inch (.5-cm) dice
10 small or 7 to 8 medium beets (about 1-1/2 pounds; 675 g),
   with greens, peeled, quartered,
   and cut across into 1/4 inch (.5-cm) slices
2 medium carrots, peeled and
   cut across into 1/4 inch (.5-cm) rounds
1 medium parsnip, peeled and
   cut across into 1/4 inch (.5-cm) rounds
1 very small or 1/2 large celery root
   (about 3/4 pound; 360 g), peeled
   and cut into 1/2 inch (1-cm) cubes
1-1/2 pounds (675 g) mashing potatoes, peeled
   and cut into 1/2 inch (1-cm) cubes
1/2 small white cabbage (about 3/4 pound; 360 g),
   cored and shredded
3 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled,
   and very finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium bunch dill, fronds only, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For Serving
Coarsely chopped dill
Sour cream
Boiled potatoes, optional


Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup (250 ml) hot water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Strain all the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the liquid (there should be 1 cup; 250 ml) and the mushrooms separately.

In a tall narrow stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

Add the beets, carrots, parsnip, celery root, 8 cups (2 L) water, and the mushroom soaking liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and, if using, the beet greens. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the liquid and stir it back into the soup. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the reconstituted dried mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the dill, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Pass bowls of chopped dill and sour cream at the table.


Soup, A Way of Life
By Barbara Kafka
Hardcover, jacketed, $35.00
300 recipes ,480 pages
ISBN 1-57965-125-9
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


Soup, A Way of Life



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This page created January 1999