Doctor Zhivago: Imperial Borscht


Because we want to serve this as an appetizer to a "state dinner", we're going to omit some of the traditional ingredients to a Russian borscht if we were going to make a whole meal of it. Most notably missing is the beef - usually short ribs - that would make for a more "filling", less refined soup. Similarly, we will give our borscht a more rarified air by straining it before serving.


  • 2 pounds peeled beets
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 medium onions
  • 1/4 cup shallots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 pound carrots
  • 1/2 pound zucchini
  • 8 cups vegetable stock


Slice two large carrots.
Slice two large zucchini.
Slice the cabbage into thin slices.
Peel and slice the large onion.
Seed the red and green peppers and slice them.
Peel and chop quarter cup of shallots.
Discard the green leafy tops of the beets. Peel the beets and then grate them.
Reserve 1/4 of the beets to a bowl. Add 1 t sugar and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and refrigerate.
Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a large soup pot over a medium heat - don't let it burn. Add to the pot:
  • the sliced zucchini
  • the onion
  • the shallots
  • the green pepper
  • the red pepper
and saute for about 10 minutes until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the beets (except for those we've reserved) to the pan.
Add the cabbage.
Now, add three or four sprigs of dill.
Finally, add the 8 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once the broth has come to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about two hours.
This step may "hurt" a little. We're going to toss all the veggies and strain our soup. Our burgundy colored broth will be infused with the flavors of the vegetables, but will be smooth not chunky. Carefully pour the soup through a sieve to another pot. Don't let the red borscht splatter or you'll be facing a hard to clean stain. I repeated this process twice. Discard the veggies, and reserve the broth to the refrigerator until you're ready for final preparation.
Bring the broth back to a near boil. Add the reserved beets to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. I brought the soup to the table in a warmed tureen. Sour cream was placed on the table for the guests.
Ladle the soup into bowls seeing to it that each contains some of the grated beets. Put a spoonful of sour cream into each bowl.

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