RECIPE: Beet Borscht with Lots of Dill

Borscht is one of those soups that you probably think you make the best. Or your mom does. Or your grandma. And I’m not going to fight you on that. There are as many borscht variations as there are beets growing in Dixon’s garden! Me? I like my borscht heavy on the beets and dill. This recipe is vegetarian, but you could easily use beef or chicken broth as your base and add any leftover cooked meat you have in the refrigerator, if that’s your style. Borscht really is one of those soups where you can do whatever the heck you like. Leave out potatoes and add white beans instead. Don’t like cabbage? Don’t add cabbage! In the summer, when the beets come with their lovely greens attached, I stir them in at the end, as they add extra nutrition, and I hate throwing away perfectly good greens. But let’s face it: borscht isn’t borscht without a generous dollop of sour cream. And a good handful of dill. One of the prettiest soups to ever come out of my kitchen, each bowlful is almost a masterpiece. 

Serves 8–10 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp canola oil 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 large yellow onion, diced 2 large Yukon Gold or your favourite waxy white potatoes, chopped (2½ cups)
1 large carrot, chopped 2 cups chopped beet greens or Swiss chard
4 medium beets, trimmed, scrubbed, and grated ½ cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 cups thinly sliced green or purple cabbage ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp honey
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 1½ tsp salt
1 can (28 oz/798 mL) diced tomatoes ¼ tsp pepper
1 can (5½ oz/156 mL) tomato paste Sour cream, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Warm the oil in a very large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beets, cabbage, and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broth, diced tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and paprika. Stir well. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the beets have softened, for about 20 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the potatoes and simmer, covered, until all of the vegetables are tender, about 20–25 more minutes. Add the beet greens, as well as the dill, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water. 
  3. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings to taste with more salt, pepper, vinegar, honey, etc. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a healthy amount of sour cream and dill. 

Note: Seeing as this soup contains potatoes and potatoes don’t freeze well, do not freeze this soup. If you think that you won’t be able to eat it all up within 5 days, substitute a can (19 oz/540 mL) of white beans, drained and rinsed, for the potatoes. If beans aren’t your favourite, add 1 cup of rinsed whole green lentils when you add the broth. The cooking time remains the same. The soup will freeze nicely then! 

Recipe by Renée Kohlman from Vegetables: A Love Story, copyright © 2021 by Renée Kohlman.