The Best Borscht


We are big borscht fans in our house. (Is that a thing? Is there a borscht fan club? If I started one, would you join?)  And this one is ridiculously good. I’ve tried several recipes over the years and this one comes out far and away as the winner. I ate it for three days straight and wished I had more.

Rich in taste and color, perfect for a cozy Sunday evening at home.  Don’t let the time required deter you, it’s mostly hands-off.

The Best Borscht
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is the best borscht! No, really. It's worth the time. Adapted from Barbara Kafka's "Winter Borscht" published in New York Times.
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 1½ pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 pound beef marrow bones
  • 1 onion with skin, cut in half
  • 2 carrots, peeled; 1 quartered, 1 grated
  • 3 red beets, scrubbed well
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ½ pound red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 boiled potato per person, chopped dill, and sour cream
  1. In a large(ish) saucepan or dutch oven cover the beef & bones with 6 cups of water. Add halved onion and quartered carrot.
  2. Bring to a boil and skim off any of the foamy fat that rises to the top with a spoon. (Reserve in a cup and give to your dog as an extra-special treat if you are a crazy pet lady like me!)
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Keep the liquid and beef. Toss the bones, carrot, and onion.
  5. Put the liquid and beef back in the pot. Add beets and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (At this point you should be able to easily pierce beets with a knife. If not, simmer a little longer).
  7. Remove the beets and allow to cool a little. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel beets (the peels should slip off pretty easily. Though be warned, you cutting board and hands will look like a murder scene.)
  8. Grate the beets! (I used the chunkier end of my cheese grater.) Add grated beets back into the soup.
  9. Dissolve tomato past in half a cup of soup.
  10. Stir tomato paste, garlic, cabbage, tomato, bay leaf, and vinegar into the soup. Bring to a boil.
  11. Lower heat and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 2 hours.
  12. Remove beef and shred with a fork. Add beef back in.
  13. If you'd like, place a boiled potato in the bottom of each large bowl. Pour soup on top. Add sour cream and chopped dill to your heart's desire. Enjoy!

(P.S. Beet pee is totally a thing, it event has a science-y name: beeturia. Don’t be alarmed. You are not dying.)