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Traditional Borscht


Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Serving dishes were placed on the table. Each of the diners was given a small painted tray on which was some tarnished cutlery, to place on his or her lap.
Zorya Vechernyaya took five wooden bowls and placed an unpeeled boiled potato in each, then ladled in a healthy serving of a ferociously crimson borscht. She plopped a spoonful of white sour cream in, and handed the bowls to each of them.

Traditional Borscht

Traditional Borscht is a vibrant, flavorful beet soup with roots in Eastern European cuisine. This recipe features a medley of vegetables, including beets, onions, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, simmered in a savory broth. The soup is best when the flavors are allowed to meld, so consider preparing it a day ahead. Top with sour cream and fresh herbs for a delicious and comforting meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Slavic
Servings 6


  • 2 medium beets peeled and grated
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and grated
  • 1 medium potato peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage shredded
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable or beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Optional toppings: sour cream chopped fresh dill, chopped fresh parsley


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, grated carrot, and grated beets, and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and minced garlic, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add the vegetable or beef broth, water, bay leaf, sugar, and white vinegar to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the diced potato and shredded cabbage. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Season the borscht with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  • Let the borscht stand for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld. If possible, let the borscht rest in the refrigerator overnight, as this will enhance the flavors.
  • Reheat the borscht before serving. If the soup has thickened during resting, you can add more water or broth to reach the desired consistency.
  • Serve the borscht hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill or parsley, if desired.