Video: How to make borscht

Katya French, from Russia, shows how to make borscht, beetroot soup.

Katya French
Katya French
Katya French has been in Dunedin 10 years, although she first came to New Zealand 20 years ago to study in Auckland.

Now she is married to a New Zealander, has three children, is a personal and business coach and organises travel expeditions.

Borscht, a beautiful red beetroot soup, is enjoyed in many eastern and central European countries and every family has its own recipe, she says. Some include beef or chicken, potatoes or mushrooms, but she likes this light version which she makes at home.

Cooked beetroot is lovely and sweet and gives the soup a beautiful colour, she says.

Traditionally it is served when the extended family gets together for a meal.

Quantities and ingredients are variable depending on how many you are feeding and how thick you want it, she says.


Katya's borscht. Photos by Gregor Richardson.
Katya's borscht. Photos by Gregor Richardson.
Borscht (beetroot soup)


2 medium to large beetroot, washed and boiled until almost cooked
2 or more litres water or stock
4 Tbsp cooking oil
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
70g tomato paste or to taste
about ½ a small head of cabbage, finely shredded
2-3 bay leaves
1 large clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

To garnish

sour cream
dill, parsley or chives, finely chopped 



Boil the beetroot and set aside to cool.

Heat the water or stock in a large pot.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir in the grated carrots. Allow to cook gently for a few minutes, then stir in the finely chopped onion and a drop of water to moisten. Allow to cook a little longer.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook another couple of minutes while you organise the cabbage. Remove the outer leaves, cut the cabbage into wedges then shred them finely. You may not need all the cabbage.

Put the cabbage in the water or stock and add the carrot and onion mixture. Stir and allow to simmer.

Peel the cooked beetroot and grate it. Add to the soup and stir. The colour from the beetroot will spread through the soup.

Simmer until the vegetables are cooked: the cabbage will darken a little.

Meanwhile add the seasoning. Finely chop the garlic clove and add, along with bay leaves and salt and pepper.

Chop the dill, parsley or chives finely so they are ready for serving. The green is a lovely contrast to the red of the soup.

To serve, ladle into bowls, top with a teaspoon of sour cream and sprinkle with chives.

Serve with rye bread and, if you want to be authentic, a shot of vodka.

To help our readers make healthy choices we are marking recipes that are high in nutrients and fibre with a ''healthy choice'' label. They can be enjoyed regularly. Recipes without the label are higher in fat, sugar or salt or have less nutrient value, and should not be indulged in often.

We use New Zealand Heart Foundation guidelines to assess the recipes.



• If you want borscht with meat, use stock with cooked pieces of meat or chicken in it. If making a vegetarian version, water is fine.

• If you are using potatoes, chop them into small pieces and put them in the simmering stock first.

• Don't use too much oil for the carrots and onion or it will overpower the clean flavours of the soup.

• Think about how chunky you want the finished soup to be, and cut the vegetables accordingly. Katya likes them finely chopped.

• You can use as much beetroot as you like: the more you use the deeper the colour. Beetroot is a powerhouse of nutrients, she says.

• If you are adding mushrooms, slice them finely and add them after the beetroot.

• Borscht improves in flavour if you leave it in the fridge overnight.

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