Black Sea Borscht


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey

Silk Road Cooking

By Najmieh Batmanglij

Published 2000

  • About

Borscht is a thick, slow-cooked soup usually made with a meat-based broth. The ingredients for Borscht, popular from Russia and the Caucuses to parts of Central Asia, vary from country to country, region to region, and even family to family. An essential ingredient is a deep-red vegetable, such as beets, tomatoes, or even rhubarb. Here I am giving you a vegetarian variation using vegetable stock.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 head cabbage (white, green or red), shredded
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 large fresh beets (about pounds), peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (leaves can also be washed, chopped and included)
  • 1 cup tomato juice or 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar


  • 1 cup sour cream (or drained yogurt) mixed with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill and 1 grated clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)


  1. In a heavy-bottomed large pot sautee the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, sugar, and 6 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the dill and vinegar. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender. Add the dill and vinegar, and stir well.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt or vinegar. This soup should be reddish and slightly tart.
  4. Pour soup into individual bowls. Garnish with the sour cream mixture (and dust with ground cumin if you desire)