My Babushka’s Borscht

Some things are inevitable.


It is inevitable that when I buy a new item of white clothing it will be dirty within four minutes of purchase.

It is inevitable that I will spill many a tear on my tacky 80’s pillow when in Russia because I miss kale and nutritional yeast.

It is inevitable that when I go to a club in a back alley in Russia by the name of “Jesus” I will dance with a guy and he will spin me over his shoulder (can someone please explain to me why this keeps happening?).

Most inevitable of all (inevitable-est) is the fact that I am posting a borscht recipe straight from my babushka’s top-secret old Russian woman vault.

Before I left for Russia I made my own borscht, which I liked but knew was far from authentic. My heart skipped a beet (punzzz) the day I came to the kitchen table and my Bab set a bowl of steamy hot borscht down at my place. Cabbage, beets, and the possibility of pink pee? Nothing better. Besides, her borscht is absolutely delicious. Can’t be beet. Alright, I’m done.

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I finally got her to spill the juicy details of how to make this soup so damn good. I offered (begged) to help prepare it once but she promptly declined and demoted me to photographer/kitchen stalker while she sliced and diced her way to the masterpiece. My babushka believes her kitchen is her kingdom and my trying to help will cramp her style. We talk a lot about the importance of food as a means of bringing people together and how sitting around enjoying a meal is a tradition which we need to fiercely protect. I still haven’t gotten her to agree to let me help her but her resistance is futile. We will be the greatest cooking team there ever was. It’s inevitable.


My Babushka’s Borscht 

The taste of Russia in your mouth. 

  • 1/2 head large cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, chopped more finely than you think possible
  • 3 potatoes, boiled, peeled, and sliced more finely than you think possible
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-6 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 3 beets, boiled and shredded (pickled work best!)
  • 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
  • chopped green onion to garnish

1. Do all of the chopping. Combine cabbage, carrot, onion, potatoes, garlic, salt and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes. Note: use pre-boiled potatoes and beets or the time will be a bunch longer and much redder.

2. About halfway through add the fresh herbs and shredded beets. Salt to taste. If not using pickled beets and want it to be bitter (the Russian way!), add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

3. Garnish with green onion and fresh dill. Enjoy the feeling of real Russianness.

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