Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A basic soup of Russia and Poland, mainly characterised by its use of beetroot, which gives the soup a lovely wine-red colour. There are thick and thin versions as well as hot and cold. All borschs are served with a sour cream garnish.


Quantity Ingredient
750g stewing beef in one piece, (shin of beef is good)
1.75 litres beef stock
1 bay leaf
90g butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 cabbage, shredded
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
15g parsley, chopped, including stalks
125g tomato paste
1 tablespoon vinegar
3 raw beetroot, peeled and grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
60ml fresh beetroot juice, plus a little juice
lemon slices, to garnish
sour cream, to garnish


  1. Place beef in a large saucepan with stock and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Skim, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1½ hours or until beef is almost tender.
  2. Heat butter in another saucepan and gently fry onions, carrots, cabbage and potatoes for 2–3 minutes, stirring to coat with butter. Add vegetables to soup pot and simmer, covered, for another 30–40 minutes or until beef and vegetables are very tender. Stir in parsley, tomato paste, vinegar and grated beetroot and simmer uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove beef from pot, cut into slices and divide among 6 large bowls. Stir beetroot juice into soup (this gives a good red colour) and ladle into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a slice of lemon and a spoonful of sour cream.


  • If desired, the meat could be served separately as a second course with rye bread, dill pickles and mustard.
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