Friday, November 9, 2012

Good Borscht!

Today is a brilliant, but cold and windy day. It is a day for hats, gloves and scarves, for pink-cheeked, red-nosed people to come into Stella's Cafe for warmth, good food and companionship. A large pot of Stella's famous Red Russian Borscht is on the stove, simmering away and scented with fresh dill. Stella has loved borscht herself since her father used to take her to the Russian restaurant in her hometown. She remembers the brimming white bowls of hot red vegetarian soup served with a generous slice of homemade bread with lashings of real butter. She has worked on her borscht recipe over the years after begging for and receiving a rather vague written recipe from the Russian restaurant's cook; just a few ingredients, no measurements. A real 'cook from the heart' recipe, 'and you will get it right,' she said.

The borscht is today's special at Stella's, written up on the black board in coloured chalk, the letters embellished with Savannah's Russian inspired flourishes. 'Served with locally baked whole wheat sourdough bread and small house salad.'  "Mmmmm...looks good! I'll have the borscht," says customer after customer. At precisely 1:30 pm the pot is empty and the cafe is full of satisfied, warm customers.

A good day!

Red Russian Borscht

Peel 2 medium sized beets, boil and reserve beets and beet water (if desired). Let cool.

In large pot add:

4 peeled potatoes cut into large chunks
1 liter of pureed canned tomatoes
2 liters of water
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper

Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft enough to mash - about 15 minutes


Peel and grate 3-4 large carrots
finely dice 2 onions
finely dice 2 long stalks celery
finely dice 1 green pepper
finely chop 1/2 large cabbage

In a large wok or frying pan, fry in 1/2 lb of butter (there is no place for low-fat dishes in cold weather as far as Stella is concerned) in the following order:  onions, celery, green pepper, large cabbage, carrots, and let cook, covered until all the veggies are tender.

Take the potatoes out with a slotted spoon and mash them with a few large dollops of sour cream.
Grate the cooked beets.
Add the potatoes to the large pot and whisk until the mashed potatoes are incorporated.
Add the grated beets to the cooked veggies in the wok and mix together. Add the veggies to the soup pot and stir gently.

Add a few sprigs of fresh dill, or dried dill weed and more salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a while before eating if you have the time, in order to let the flavours mingle. If you like your borscht extra pink, add a bit of the reserved beet water.

Makes about 5 liters.


  1. This looks delicious! And the bowl is so it stoneware?

    1. The bowl is from a set of pottery by a local potter in my hometown area. It is nice, isn't it!

  2. Stella is definitely in the right business! I love trying something outside of the typical American foods. Since I'm not close to Stella's, I'll have to check the menus of other places I go to, to see if they have this soup. I'd love to try it.

    Or, maybe some day, I can get my girls to help with the slicing and dicing and we can do it together. Long shot, but I could be surprised. :)

    1. There are several varieties of borscht, Anita. Some are vegetarian and some aren't - I think they have pork in them. I like this one because it is a bit sweet, especially if the cabbage and carrots are fresh. If not, a little honey can be added. I hope you do get to try it!

      A food processor can be very helpful with the slicing, dicing, and grating, too :)