March 14, 2013

Sauerkraut Borscht

You may remember my love of sauerkraut and my somewhat unorthodox (and dead easy) way of making it. Here's a little replay of my sauerkraut-making video from last summer, to warm you up to sauerkraut borscht. And also to remember summer. Remember summer?! Before you watch this though, I must warn you, this was shot a very hot summer day. So there is a sexy shirtless farmer alert. Proceed with caution.

Well, first of all I confess I did not use her Royal Majesty the Ruby Kraut in this recipe, I simply used a white kraut, although I am certain Ruby would have added lovely hues to this borscht.

BORSCHT! Don't you love the way it sounds when you say it? That word has oomph and attitude. Traditionally, borscht is made with a kind of fermented beet juice or kvass, typical in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. I've been wanting to make beet kvass for a while but it takes a week before it's ready and I had a craving for borscht yesterday that required immediate action, so I made it with a bit of sauerkraut added in instead, which gave it a beautiful tangy flavour. In case you're wondering, you can easily make the beet kvass by peeling and slicing beets, covering them lukewarm water, dropping a slice of rye bread on top, and leaving the whole thing in a quiet place for a week.

And by the way, if you're really into borscht and want to read about it further or consider other recipes, The Guardian did a great feature on it that is well worth the read.

Here's my version, it's pretty simple and pared down but packed with flavour. You can add potatoes or carrots if you like, there are so many versions of this recipe but for me borscht is all about celebrating beets and cabbage so I just stick to those two. And of course, sour cream and fresh dill are a MUST.


1 medium-large onion, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil or butter
Half of a medium-small cabbage, shredded
5 or 6 medium-sized beets, peeled and finely cubed except for one which should be grated
Between 1/2 to 1 cup chopped sauerkraut, depending on how zesty you want your borscht
2 litres of good (preferably homemade) beef or vegetable broth
2 medium cubed potatoes (optional)
4 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Sour cream
Fresh dill
* Many people put a tablespoon of sugar in their borscht. I don't, but you may wish to try it

Sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, until golden. Add the shredded cabbage and chopped garlic and give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two more. Add all the remaining ingredients: beets, sauerkraut, potatoes if using, broth. You may need to add some water or broth depending on how thick you like your soup. Simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until beets and cabbage are soft and soup is flavourful. Season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind it will already be a bit salty from the sauerkraut so taste it before seasoning. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream and fresh chopped dill. As with most soups, this one tastes even better the next day when the flavours have really matured, so be sure to make a large pot so you have leftovers.


  1. I'm from Poland. In my country "barszcz" is so popular and traditional soup. We have to prepare barszcz (czerwony) - the red one - for Christmas Eve. In Poland we have another type of barszcz, barszcz biały. The white one - and we prepare it for Eastern. Barszcz biały isn't prepare from beetroot.
    Greetings from Poland
    P.S.: I really like your blog.

  2. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is collecting links to dishes using cauliflower and/or cabbage. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . It would be great if you checked out some of the other links – there are lots of good ones already. Cheers

  3. Aube, thanks for linking in to Food on friday. I have signed up to follow your blog and hope that you will follow Carole's Chatter back. Cheers

  4. Made borscht for the first time about a month ago. It is an amazing soup, and great the next day as well. Not too difficult to make at all. Thanks for your work on the Kraut and this blog.

    1. Thanks Jose! Borscht is an amazing soup indeed, glad you enjoyed it! :-)

  5. We had cold beet soup with noodles(no sour cream)every Christmas Eve. The soup my Mother used to make was clear like red wine, and she used sauerkraut juice in the recipe. I wish I had gotten the recipe from her because it seems that there are no recipes for beet soup using sauerkraut juice anywhere.