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Irina’s Vegetarian Borscht

February 13, 2024
Irina’s Vegetarian Borscht

Robbie Sokolowsky/Tribeca Journal Studio

Like all immigrant recipes: “There is no recipe! Just watch and learn!”


  • 5medium beets, peeled, and shredded (ideally using a food processor)
  • 3large carrots, peeled, and shredded (ideally using a food processor)
  • 1small head cabbage, shredded
  • 2medium-sized potatoes
  • 3cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 4ounces hot water
  • 6tablespoons olive oil
  • 2oz chopped fresh dill
  • Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1-2teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Sour cream and dill (optional, for serving)
Yield: Serves 4 (but really, it serves 4 people every night for 3 nights)


  • Step 1

    Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When warm, add 2/3 of finely chopped garlic and sauté for a few minutes until golden. Add shredded beets and sauté until soft. Add about two ounces of hot water to further soften the beets. When the beets have softened, add the tomato paste and two more ounces of hot water. Mix well and continue to sauté, adding more water as needed to help elements combine and soften. When mixture is all the same consistency (approximately 15 minutes) remove from heat and set aside.

  • Step 2

    In a separate pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add shredded carrots and sauté until golden (approximately 8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Step 3

    Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and add chopped celery and some salt; bring to a boil. While water boils, peel potatoes and cut into medium-sized pieces. Once pot comes to a boil, add potatoes. When potatoes are about half-cooked (softened but not fully cooked) lower heat to a simmer.

  • Step 4

    Add the cooked shredded carrots, cooked shredded beets. and remaining third of finely chopped garlic to the pot.

  • Step 5

    Add shredded cabbage to the pot and season everything with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. And lemon juice and granulated sugar to taste. Finally, add the chopped fresh dill and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  • Step 6

    To serve: Taste the borscht to check for seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with extra dill.