(Sort of) Borscht

You’ve probably realised that I’m a pretty transparent, heart-on-my-sleeve sort of person. I’m no good at dissembling (and have no interest in acquiring the skill, either, come to that). So if you are connected to me in other spaces, you will know the brutal truth that the reason that I have not been posting many recipes here, lately, is that I simply can’t afford the ingredients. It occurred to me that, if I was being so up-front about it on Facebook and Twitter, there was no reason to be coy about it here.

We are currently in a fairly difficult financial position that is set to get immeasurably worse within the next few months. Of course, we continue to hope for a miracle and to work hard at making sure we have left no stone unturned, but, for now, it is what it is. We have been blessed by friends who have given us food hampers, which has been wonderful and kept us all fed, but I have been uninspired recipe-wise. I hope you understand.

Be all that as it may, my local supermarket has a shelf where they sell fresh produce that has passed its best. I decided to pull my head out of my… erm… navel and get creative with what was on offer there. This is what I did yesterday, with a bag of no-longer-firm beetroot (beets, to you Americans) I found. Variations of beetroot soup (probably best known as borscht) are very popular in most East European countries.

The thing you need to know about this soup is that it is extremely low in fat (apart from the soured cream, that is, and you could always choose to leave that bit out) and highly nutritious.

15ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, sliced (optional – I leave this out because I have one son who loathes it)
3 or 4 beetroots, peeled and grated
1 large potato, peeled and grated
1 carrot, scraped and grated
1.25l stock – meat for omnivores, vegetable for veggies
Black pepper
Splash of red wine
Generous pinch of sugar
Soured cream


  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onion and celery until the onion becomes slightly translucent.
  • Add the carrot, beetroot and potato just briefly.
  • Add the stock and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  • Season with black pepper (and salt if you feel compelled) to taste.
  • Add the red wine and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Serve, with a dollop of soured cream and crusty brown bread.

Some things you can try with this soup:

  • Add a sprig or two of dill – it’s surprising how well dill works with beetroot!
  • Add about 15ml of freshly grated ginger root (instead of the dill, not as well as).
  • Instead of either of the above, about 5ml horseradish will put hairs on your chest, if you like the stuff (I don’t).

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