Making Borscht (Russian Mennonite Cabbage and Vegetable Soup)

My family origins come from Mennonite people that settled in the Ukraine in the 1700s. Mennonites, even before they migrated to that area, have always been notorious for their strong flavored, substantial, pork and beef based soups.  When they began living in Ukraine (South Russia at that time), long winters began dictating what ingredients they would use to make their soups with.  They also came across the traditional soup called borshch.  This strange name originates from the Slavic word for beet.  Generally speaking, borshch is a cabbage soup with vegetables or beet soup.

Ukrainians are definitely the originators of this mild and tart soup.  Since their winters are so long, root vegetables were the main ingredients to their soups, especially the beets, simply for the fact that these vegetables could be preserved throughout the winter.

When the Mennonites began making this soup, the word borshch began sounding more like Borscht, with a “t” at the end, becoming a Low German noun.  As years past, Mennonite Borscht became very famous, and cabbage was the main ingredient, not beets.  It, of course, depended from family to family.  Ukrainians are extraordinary with beets.  They can come up with the most amazing and delicious red soups.  For some reason, that redness was not so popular among the Mennonites, therefore beets are used sparingly or not at all.

In my family, Borscht was one of my mom’s favorite meal.  During our cold, wet and cloudy winters in South Brazil, having Borscht during a Sunday after church lunch was the best meal ever.  Add some Zwieback on the side, and oh my goodness!!!!  Warming and filling.

For a recipe on how to make Zwieback, watch this video:

All right.  I like to share with you how to make this soup.  It’s really not that hard!!

The first thing you need is two Cats!!



These are my two little lovelies, Mocha and Cappuccino!  They watch everything I do! They get rewarded with a piece of meat here and there.

All right, I’m serious now.   Here are your ingredients:

1 Roast (3 to 4 lbs). Any cut of meat here will do.  Usually, I go for what is the cheapest.

6 or 7 medium Potatoes

10 not too thick Carrots



Fresh Dill

1 small can tomato paste

Milk cream (half and half, or sour cream, or Mexican fresh cream, or evaporated milk). The cream is optional.  It can be done without.

Chicken or beef broth (buillon or powedered)

Lot’s of water


Let’s talk about the meat.  I often buy a roast, around 3.5 pounds.  I don’t need the entire piece. Cut it in half, use one half and freeze the other half.

Chop that one part of the meat in small pieces.  Not too small though.  Place it in a pot, fill the pot with water, until half full, and bring it to a boil.  Add 2 tbl of chicken buillon (could be beef boillon too).  If you use bouillon cubes, about 2, maybe 3. My pot is an 8 qt pressure cooker, so quite large. I like to cook my meat in the pressure cooker for about 20 minutes.  Turn it off and let the pressure subside.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker, that is fine.  Cook the meat for about 45 minutes in medium heat.

Once that is done, add carrots and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add potatoes.  They should be cut into small pieces. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add cabbage.  Cut it in strips.  Add some water, so that everything is covered by water.

Add tomato paste.  The entire can.


Let it boil for another 10 minutes or so.  All vegetable need to be soft but you don’t want to overcook it either.


Turn off the heat.  Add the dill and 2 tbl spoons of cream.  I personally love Mexican fresh cream.  If you are using evaporated milk, or half and hald you might be looking at 1/4 cup.


Now let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  This is super hot, so if you wait a it before serving, that would be ideal.  Note that the dill and cream were added after the heat was turned off.  You don’t want to overcook cream, not the dill.

Serve it with more cream if you like.  In my family we would squeeze a lemon or lime into the bowl.  Have it with zwieback, ot any other bread!!

Bom apetite!

Gutten apetit!