Academy Award Winning Borscht

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I always watch the Academy Award Show. I don't know why, because I don't go to the movies that often and don't really care what clothes anyone is wearing or which celebrity showed up with someone or no one.

But, as Tevye says, "it's tradition."

I watch because that's what I always do.

And usually with Ed, of course, and with Eileen and Jeff, who also don't go to the movies very often.

We will have dinner of course, and popcorn of one kind or another

I thought that for dinner I would make something representative of the one movie we did see: Bridge of Spies, about the negotiations for the return of Francis Gary Powers of the then-famous U2 spy incident.

The four of us are all old enough to remember Powers, whose plane "somehow accidentally got lost in USSR airspace" (so we were told back then when we were children). And of course we remember, when it was news, the spy exchange of Powers for Rudolf Abel (played, in my opinion, miraculously well by Mark Rylance).

So - borscht of course. So Russian. So delicious. 

This version is loaded with cabbage and other vegetables, so the beets don't overwhelm. You can make it with beef stock (and even add some meat), but also with vegetable stock (and then serve the soup topped with dairy sour cream or plain yogurt).

Academy Award Winning Borscht

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium beets, peeled and shredded
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 8 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar, approximately
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • dairy sour cream or plain Greek style yogurt, optional


Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the beets, tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery, cabbage and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, one hour. Add the potatoes and cook for 45 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and dill and cook for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste. Remove the bay leaf. If the soup is cooked using vegetable stock, serve it garnished with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

 Makes 8-10 servings


Borscht with Cumin and Crumbs

Kids are often fussy eaters. So you know you’ve cooked something really good when the little ones like it.

Here’s my grandson sipping up soup. Borscht to be exact. I’ve been experimenting with different versions. A few days ago I posted one for Borscht with Orange and Mint. But this one’s equally delicious. I have to confess the idea for this version came from a sample of Beet Borscht I tasted at Per Se, that fabulous, fabulous food heaven in New York. No, this recipe is not up to Thomas Keller’s restaurant standards.

But it is good and will do! 

Borscht with Cumin and Crumbs

  • 3 large or 4-5 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup cream, coconut milk or soy milk, optional
  • 2 slices rye bread with caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Scrub the beets, wrap them in aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, or until the beets are tender. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Chop the beets and set them aside. Reserve any natural liquids that have accumulated. Heat the olive oil and butter in a soup pot or large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion, apple, garlic and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the ingredients have softened. Add the beets (plus any accumulated juices), cumin, salt and pepper and stir. Pour in the water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand blender or in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pan to heat through. For a creamier, thinner soup, add the cream. Toast the bread slices. Chop or hand crumble the bread into the soup as a garnish.

Makes 4-6 servings