Meatless Monday with Irina Kaplun

| March 25, 2022
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There are hundreds if not thousands of recipes on how to make borscht. Every woman, every city, and every region would claim that their own recipe is authentic and others are not. This one is simple and delicious. My dear friend from Odesa taught me how to cook it. 


½ head of cabbage
1 onion
2 small (or one large) beets
1 carrot
6 oz mushrooms (any kind will do; portobellos and champignons recommended)
2 teaspoons butter
2 medium potatoes
15oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2T. neutral oil (like vegetable or canola oil)
2-3 T. tomato paste
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1-2 bay leaves (optional)
Fresh dill (to taste, optional)
Sour cream (to taste, optional) 


  1. Pour 4-5 liters of water into a large pot and put it over medium-to-high heat to boil. 
  2. Slice mushrooms. Melt butter in a pan and saute mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Mushrooms cooking in a frying pan
  3. When water has boiled, reduce heat to low and add mushrooms. 
  4. Cut your onion and carrot into large chunks and add them to the pot. 
  5. Add bay leaves to pot, if using.
    A hand holds a plastic back with a picture of bay leaves on it over a soup pot full of vegetables and one bay leaf. The label on the package is in Polish.
  6. Thinly slice your cabbage (everything but the stalk) and add it all to the pot. 
  7. Let the soup cook until the cabbage is soft, about 30 minutes. 
  8. Slice the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Add them to the pot 
  9. Peel your uncooked beets and then shred them into thin little pieces. (Your hands will become red, but do not worry. It washes off quickly.)
    A hand holds a grater over a bowl full of grated beets.
  10. Put a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 T. oil to the pan. Add shredded beets to the pan and saute, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. A frying pan full of grated beets cooks on a stovetop.
  11. Add tomato paste to pan. Stir frequently for 3 more minutes.
  12. Add the beets and tomato mixture to the soup. 
  13. If the soup looks very thick at this point, add more water to the pot and wait for it to (re)boil.
  14. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper according to your taste.
  15. When the potatoes are soft, add the beans to the soup. A hand holding a colander full of red kidney beans pours the beans into a pot of red soup on a stovetop.
  16. Let everything cook together for about 10 minutes. Add dill, if desired, and turn off the heat.
    A pot of bright red borscht, with bits of green dill floating in it, sits on a stovetop.
  17. Your soup is ready to eat right away, but it gets more delicious if you wait a few hours. It will be super tasty on the next day too. You can eat it ‘as is” or add 1 T. of sour cream to your bowl. A bowl of borscht sits on a placemat. To its left, there is a plate with white and brown bread, as well as a baguette. To its right, there is a vase of daffodils and a spoon.