Brownie’s Bourgeois Borscht
Rick Brown

“Cabbage? We don’t need no steeenkeeng cabbage!!!”, Chef Brown

It’s not that I have anything against cabbage. Borscht with cabbage is a wholesome, wintertime, proletariat type soup that can be delicious. But this is a more gourmet recipe…one that would make…say…Nikita Khrushchev take off his shoe and bang it on the table while shouting for another bowl!! You will too!!

This recipe is for about 6 servings. But I usually double or triple it because it freezes quite well.


1 onion, chopped
1 pound beets (or a little more if you like it beetier!), peeled and chopped. (Beets can be peeled after boiling them for a while and letting them cool down until cool to the touch. Some people like to bake them in the oven first instead.)
2 large granny smith apples
4 celery stalks chopped
1 red pepper chopped
3 oz. Crimini mushrooms chopped
3 oz. shitake mushrooms chopped
3 oz. Portobello mushrooms chopped
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Pinch of dried thyme
3 large bay leaves
Juice from a fresh lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
2/3 cups sour cream (optional for topping soup when serving)
Few sprigs fresh dill for garnish (optional)


Slowly warm the butter, oil and about a cup of stock in a large saucepan. Add chopped vegetables, mushrooms and apples. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium high heat occasionally shaking and/or stirring.

Stir in cumin seeds and cook for a minute or two. Add remaining stock, lemon juice, thyme, bay leaves and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes.

At this point strain the vegetables, reserving the liquid. Place in a food processor or blender and puree. I use a hand held blender with large batches…just puree it altogether right in the saucepan. But you might need to strain the soup again before serving when this approach is taken. It’s a pain…but then again so is transferring a large amount of liquid to a food processor.

Return everything to the sauce pan if a food processor is used. Reheat. Check the seasoning and adjust to your liking if necessary. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or sprigs of dill.

This recipe is ripe for variation…adding more beets, more or less mushrooms, etc. Hell! You could even add cabbage if you wanted to!

Bon appetite!!!