Delicious Kale Bortsch: Russian Beet Soup

Oct 21, 2014 by

This recipe makes a big pot of delicious soup! One of my favorite winter soups, with a fabulous sour sweet taste with a good kick of cumin, and appealing deep red color.  It’s not tricky to make but does require a good bit of cutting up veggies. I serve leftovers  for a couple of days and freeze the rest.

Traditionally, it calls for curly Savoy cabbage. I couldn’t find any once so I tried curly dinosaur kale with a handful or two of green cabbage. It was delicious, maybe even better than the original.

Clean and trim the vegetables. Chop them up.

Cut up the salt pork and brown it a few minutes in a large soup pot. You may need to add a little oil if the pork doesn’t really render much. Add the cut up vegetables, the tomato paste, and stir it all up for a couple of minutes over med-high heat. Cover and let cook gently for about 5 minutes. Open the pot and pour on the vinegar, the broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Add the next 4 ingredients (which you can put in a tea ball or something to keep track of them if you want). Simmer for about an hr. Remove the aromates as the French call them (herbs) or watch out for them when you’re eating. They won’t kill you but they can be a bit much between the teeth. Garnish each bowl with sour cream and fresh dill.

  • A bunch of curly green kale and a chuck of green cabbage, or 1 small savoy cabbage (curly dark green cabbage, the darker and curlier the better)
  • 1 celery root (or a cup of celery cut up if you can’t get celery root)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 beet
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • A cup or so cut up of salt pork (or I get raw pork belly fat with some lean from pastured pigs at the farmer’s market, and salt it while browning it. The more the better).
  • 1 t tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup + 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 10 C of broth (any kind. Homemade is best and adds lots of nutrients to the soup)
  • 3/4  T salt, 2 t pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 whole  cloves
  • 3 t cumin (or to taste)
  • 5 juniper berries
  • Sour cream, fresh dill


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