Russian-Style Beef Borscht Recipe

From Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst, photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden (Chronicle Books, 2016).


This is the soup for those bitter cold winter days when you think nothing can possibly warm you up. Hearty, rich, and full of sweet, earthy beets, carrots, onions, leeks, and beef broth, this borscht should be served in small bowls with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill, and a pinch of cracked pepper.

I like to make this soup after I’ve made Rich Beef-Bone Broth or after I’ve roasted a beef brisket, short ribs, or even roast beef. The leftover meat is delicious added to the soup. Serve with Mixed Greens Salad with Mint-Tangerine Vinaigrette.

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  • 2 medium leeks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb [455 g] beets, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small head white cabbage, very thinly shredded or thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill, plus 1 cup [55 g] packed finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 11/2 Tbsp juniper berries (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds (optional)
  • 3 cups [720 g] canned chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup [240 ml] dry red wine
  • 2 cups [480 ml] Rich Beef-Bone Broth (page 24), Basic Beef Stock (page 27), or canned low-sodium broth
  • 2 cups [480 ml] water
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups [320 g] finely chopped cooked beef from a brisket, short ribs, or roast beef (optional)
  • 1 cup [190 g] sour cream or plain Greek yogurt


  1. Trim off the dark green sections from the leeks and save for making vege­table stock. Halve the pale green and white sections lengthwise. Rinse under cold running water, pat dry, and cut crosswise into small pieces.
  2. In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the butter and olive oil. Add the leeks, beets, carrots, onion, cabbage, 3 Tbsp dill, and thyme; season with salt and pepper; and stir well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, if desired, cut out a 2-in [5-cm] piece of cheesecloth. Wrap up the juniper berries and coriander seeds and tie with a piece of kitchen string. Add the herb bundle to the pot and cover it with the vegetables.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, beef broth, and water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 min­utes. Add the vinegar and cooked beef (if using). Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, and the stock should be very flavorful; the soup will be quite thick. Remove the cheesecloth with the spices.
  5. Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls; garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of the remaining dill, and a pinch of pepper; and serve.

TO GO: Pack the garnishes separately.

From Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst (Chronicle Books, 2016).

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