Borscht- Russian Soup


Borscht is both mine and my husband's favourite soup. Borscht is traditionally made from a beef broth with potatoes, white cabbage, onion, carrot, beetroot, tomatoes, and beef; and served with crème fraiche, dill and garlic. In this soup all the vegetables are shredded or cut, not mashed like in many Europeans pureed soups.

Suitable: Gaps, Paleo, Primal, SCD

Allergies: No nuts, No seeds, No dairy, No eggs

Borscht with a Bone marrow

Please read the cooking tips if you have never cooked it before.

In Russia it’s commonly believed that Borscht is a beetroot soup, originally Ukrainian, and Schi is a Russian cabbage soup.  However, because our nations were so close for over a thousand years no one can say exactly who owns the right of origin to Borscht while everyone agrees that Schi is Russian. To continue (link)

This particular recipe will need 2 big pots around 6-7 litres: one is for making broth the other is for making soup. If for some reason you cannot fit all the vegetables into one pot, it is not a problem just put the rest in a smaller pot, 1.5 litres.  Bring to the boil and eat as normal or freeze.

 For Borscht and meat broth:

1 Large Pot, 6-7 liters
2 Large Frying Pans
2 Wooden Spoons
1 Sharp Knife
2 Medium Pots, 3-3.5 liters, (to chop vegetables into, and keep before putting in the pot)
1 Grater
1 Chopping Board
Kitchen Gloves (not resin) to peel and grate beetroot without staining your skin
Different size freezer contaniners


For the beef broth:

1 kg /2.2 lb beef

4-6 bone marrow pieces

4 litres of water

2 tb sp of salt

For the Borscht:

4 medium size beetroot

2 small white cabbage

3-4 medium size carrot

2-3 medium size onion

3 litres beef broth

6-8 medium size chopped tomatoes (possibly tinned 800gr/1.7lb)

200gr/7 oz/0.5 lb ghee

1 medium size celeriac

2-3 gloves garlic

5-6 tb sp apple vinegar or 10-12 tb sp fermented veg juice 

5-6 bay leaves

dill (as used in Russia) or coriander if dill not available

Preparation time: 30-40 min

Cooking time: Borscht 1 hour

Cooking time: broth 3.5 hours

Serves: 8-10 people

Preparation method:

Wash all the vegetables

Peel beetroot, celeriac, garlic and onions

Cut celeriac very small, like for fine chips

Chop onion

Chop tomatoes finely. Divide into 2 parts

Grate carrot

Shred cabbage

Grate beetroot



Put meat, bone marrow and water in to 6-7 litre pot and put it on the hob.

Set to maximum temperature. It takes around 10-15 min to boil. Add all salt and reduce the temperature to low or very low, but the liquid must be simmering. Cook for further 3-3.5 hours.

After 3-3.5 hours take the meat and bone marrow out of the pot.

See making beef broth (link)

Pour the broth through the sieve in to the other 6-7 litre pot

Leave 3 litres of broth in the pot. Put the extra broth into another container (link)


Add celeriac into the broth and bring to the boil on a high flame, after it starts boiling reduce the temperature to low

After it has simmered for 10 min add all the shredded cabbage

Simmer for 20 min

Melt 100 gr/3.5oz of ghee in the pan, add all the beetroot, fry for 5 mins, stir every 2-3 min, add 100ml/3.4oz   of broth

Fry on a medium/medium low heat for a further 15 min, stir every 2-3 min

Add half of the chopped tomatoes and 100ml/3.4oz  of broth

Fry for a further 10 mins, stir every 2-3 mins. Add vinegar and stir

Melt 100 gr/3.5oz of ghee in the pan add all the carrot and onion, fry for 5 mins, stir every 2-3 mins, add 100ml/3.4oz   of broth

Fry on a medium/medium low further 15 min, stir every 2-3 mins

Add the other half of chopped tomatoes and 100ml/3.4oz of broth

Fry further for 10 min, stir every 2-3 min

After beef cooled down for 30 min cut it into bite pieces

 Add chopped meat into the pot with celeriac and cabbage

Add bay leaves

Add carrot, onion, tomatoes into the pot with beef, celeriac and cabbage.

Stir thoroughly throughout. Cook for 4-5 mins

Add beetroot into the pot with all the other ingredients

Bring to the boil, stirring thoroughly. Taste Borscht, if necessary add salt or vinegar. Immediately it boils, switch off the hob and move the pot away from the heat.

Cooking tips:

It is important that all the vegetables should be properly cooked before putting it all together, otherwise the soup may not last. Total minimum cooking time

Celeriac 40 min, cabbage 30 min, beetroot 30 min, carrot and onion 25 min.

After adding fully cooked beetroot, do not boil the soup longer than 2-3 min once it has boiled, because if you do the soup will lose its colour. It must be very, very red!!!!!!!!

If the soup has lost it colour, it is not a problem taste wise, it is still will be very tasty and full and goodness.

People cook soups differently: some like it thin with more broth, others thicker with more vegetables, and of course there are many in between who make it medium thickness. Some people like a lot of cabbage, others a lot of beetroot. My husband and I prefer it very thick with a lot of cabbage and beetroot, but not much celeriac. My mum likes it very thin without too much beetroot and vinegar. It is just a matter of taste. You can try to cook it with different proportions of vegetables and decide for yourself.

This soup is served hot, is very filling, and is a perfect meal for the cold autumn and winter months. Originally in Russia it was a starter, but because it is so filling my husband and I eat it for dinner on its own.

For the purpose of a healthy diet I have replaced potatoes with celeriac, which fits in very well. Celeriac gives borscht a slightly stronger taste, but goes great with the rest of the vegetables.

When I first came to England I used to cook it almost every Saturday as a special treat for our friends and family. People liked it very much, always asking for more. It is mine and my husband’s favourite soup too. At the moment we eat it 4 evenings per week. We concluded that our bodies digest soup more easily than a full meal and decided to have soup as an evening meal. Why make your body work harder than it has to? Of course my husband, being a real gourmet, became bored with eating the same soup over and over again. He tried it with grated cheese instead of crème fraiche and liked it greatly. This dish I have called “Borscht a la Paul”; you can try it this way too.

Borscht a la Paul

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