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Like all traditional recipes or dishes rather, there is no hard-and-fast recipe and rules for borscht. It all depends on what you have on hand and how fancy you want to go. This recipe is quite fancy in Eastern Europe (where it hails from) peasant terms!

Beetroot Soup


  • 30 ml sunflower oil
  • 250 g pork belly, cubed
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large onion, coarsley chopped
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • small bunch whole parsley stalks
  • 1 chicken or beef stock cubes, crumbled
  • 750 g fresh beetroot, stalks cut off
  • 30 ml cake flour mixed with 45 ml melted butter
  • about 30 ml lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • freshly-milled black pepper
  • thick soured cream mixed to taste with creamed horseradish
  • garnishing: grated fresh horseradish root, fresh pink peppercorns, snipped chives or spring onion tops, beetroot sprouts

Chef's hint: It's really the easiest thing to find fresh pink peppercorns! Just go pick them off the Madagascar Pepper Tree in your or your neighbour’s garden when it’s in season. Then pickle them in a simple brine and you will have soft, fresh peppercorns the whole year! They are not quite the real McCoy peppercorns we know but they are quite mild, very tasty and a colourful talking point.


First make a stock. On very high heat in the oil, brown the pork, carrot and onion until lightly charred at the edges. This will give your stock a good flavour. Add the water, bay leaf, parsley and stock cubes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes. Now strain it and return the stock to the saucepan. (The pork and veggies can be eaten separately or reserved for another use).

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, cook the beetroot in plenty of lightly salted water until tender. Under cold running water, remove the skins. Pat dry with paper towels, cut coarsely into smaller pieces and place in a blender. With the blade running, add the flour-butter mixture and a few spoonsful of the stock. Blend until smooth then add the puree to the stock. Bring gently to the boil, stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Add sufficient lemon juice or vinegar to give it a slightly tart taste, add black pepper to taste and check for salt.

Borscht is not always a thick, stick-a-spoon-in kind of soup. If your soup is too thick to your liking, thin it down with prepared stock. And if you want a silky-smooth texture, strain it. Whatever you prefer, serve it piping hot with a dollop of sour cream mixed with horseradish and then go wild with whatever garnishing you have on hand. If you want to make them, dark rye bread croutons will go down a treat!

Serves 4 6 portions