Borscht, Doukhobor Style

A thick, very rich version of Russian beet soup melded with potatoes and other vegetables, butter, and cream..

For years, various members of the family have lived in an area of British Columbia, Canada, into which many Doukhobors (a sect of Christian Russians who practice  what is called “radical pacifism”) settled after emigrating to Canada from Russia in the early 1900s to escape persecution. One of the mainstays of the Doukhobour diet, which is vegetarian, is their particular style of borscht, or beet soup, which is thick with potato starch and heavily laden with butter and cream. It is a full-course meal in itself.

  • 1-1/2 cups runny mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 medium cabbage, shredded
  • 1 beet, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 t basil
  • salt and dill to taste
  • water as needed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whipping cream

Prepare the mashed potatoes, reserving the water in which the potatoes were cooked. Set the mashed potatoes aside. Add 3/4 of the cabbage, the diced beet, carrot, and green pepper to the hot potato water in a large soup pot and cook for 15 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the chopped onion and garlic and stir until transparent, and then add the rest of the cabbage. Fry to brown slightly.

Toss the fried cabbage in with the other vegetables in the potato broth. Empty the tomatoes into the skillet and add the basil. Heat well and throw into the soup pot. Add water as needed and continue simmering. Add the mashed potatoes and dill. Stir in cream (use as much as your taste buds dictate and your conscience will allow) and heat but do not boil. Season.

Serves 8.