Recipes by Request: Borscht the Doukhobor Way

I made borscht this past weekend for the first time in years. It’s an amazing recipe, handed down on my father’s side of the family for generations…in fact, it wasn’t even written down anywhere until my mother wanted to learn how to make it after marrying Dad.


Mom glued herself to my grandmother’s side on borscht-making day, watching, guessing at measurements, taking notes, and asking questions. I can still remember the stained, worn sheet of paper I copied from when I wanted the recipe for myself. Mom had made it so many times by then that she no longer needed to refer to it. I’m not that practiced myself, and likely never will be. Where it was a staple in my father’s Doukhobor home, it’s a special treat for us. Partly because it’s pretty labour intensive, and partly because…well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to include this amount of butter and cream in your everyday diet. 😉


You will, however, want to at least try it, because it’s that good. Rich and loaded with cabbage and potatoes, it’s a meal on its own, best served with fresh bread slathered with peanut butter. That last part was invented by our family when I was growing up. It’s not very Doukhobor, but it should have been, because the flavour of the peanut butter marries perfectly with the soup. I hope you enjoy!


2 ½ quarts of water

4 cups canned tomatoes (divided)

5 medium potatoes, peeled & halved

3 cups potatoes, peeled & diced

2 small carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced (divided)

1 small beet, diced

1 medium cabbage, chopped (divided)

5 tablespoons butter (divided)

1 cup heavy cream


Place water, 1 cup of the tomatoes, the potato halves, half of the diced onion, and all of the beet and carrot into a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until potato halves are cooked (about 20-25 minutes).


In the meantime, in a large frying pan, sauté the remaining onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter until translucent. Add the remaining 3 cups of tomatoes and simmer until thick.


It should look a little like this.

When the potato halves in the pot are cooked, remove them and add them to half of the fried tomato mixture. Put the remaining fried tomato mixture into the pot along with the diced potatoes, bring the pot back to the boil, and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 10 minutes).


While that’s cooking, mash the potato halves, the fried tomato mixture, and the cream together. Set the mixture aside and wipe your frying pan clean.


Melt the remaining butter in the frying pan and sauté one quarter of the chopped cabbage until translucent, limp, and just beginning to brown (about 10-15 minutes). When the potatoes in the big pot are done, add the remaining three quarters of the chopped cabbage to the pot, bring to a boil, and simmer until done (about 15 minutes). You may need to add extra water at this point so that your cabbage is completely covered.


Add the mashed potato mixture to the big pot. Bring to a boil, then add the fried cabbage. Bring to a boil again, then serve whenever you’re ready.

And don’t forget the peanut butter and bread! (No, really…trust me on this.) 😉


This recipe makes an enormous quantity of soup, but it keeps for several days in the fridge, tastes even better the day after it’s made, and freezes well.

P.S. If you prefer, you can make a dairy-free version using a good vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance) and a soy-based cooking cream such as Belsoy.

P.P.S. Please spread the deliciousness and share using the buttons below! 🙂



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2 responses to “Recipes by Request: Borscht the Doukhobor Way”

  1. Mickey Nazarov Avatar
    Mickey Nazarov

    the spelling of Borsht is wrong. The “T” is not of the Russian spelling or even r
    Russian Borsh it is either German or Jewish. If you go to a true Russian Dictionary you will find that there is no “T” spelt the way it sounds Borsh. Mickey Nazarov

    1. Linda Avatar

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Mickey, but this is how my family has always spelled it (and how many, many other recipes spell it as well), so I think I’ll stick with it. 😉

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