Cabbage Borscht (Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup)

As I stated in the last entry, soup is a passionate area for me. Not only is it a comfort food on a cold, stormy day (or night), it also represents the best parts of my family: tradition, the fact that patience with one another yields excellent results, that while we are very different ingredients, when we come together, we are pretty awesome.

I can’t say that cabbage borscht was one of my fave’s as a kid. As a matter of fact, I think I may have been in my 20’s before I even tasted it, because I didn’t like the way it smelled – kind of cabbage-y. However, once I tasted it, I had to consider where that mushroom-barley soup stood in my esteem.

I have two recipes for cabbage borscht, a slow one that is going to be on your backburner for most of the day and a second that cooks faster and can be easily converted to a vegetarian recipe. Both of these are soured after cooking by adding about a cup of homemade kraut. If you don’t know about lacto-fermenting, there are earlier entries to consult.

DO NOT salt the soup before adding lacto-fermented vegetables! L-F Veggies are naturally salty, and you don’t want to over-salt. Once salt is in you can’t get it out. If there isn’t enough, you can always add more at the table.


SLOW Cabbage Borscht

1 – 2 lbs. short ribs

1 soup bone

1 large onion, cut in large pieces

16 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 medium carrot

1 medium head of cabbage

1 – 1 ½ C homemade sauerkraut

salt and pepper to taste


Put the short ribs, soup bone, onion, tomatoes, and carrot into a big pot and cover with cold water. Put on a medium heat and bring it up to a simmer. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and let this simmer away for 5 -6 hours. Keep an eye on the water level and add a quart for every quart you lose.

Quarter and core the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into spoon size pieces. Place in a colander and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt. This will “sweat” some of the excess water put of the cabbage.

After 5-6 hours, remove the bones and meat. Run an immersion blender through the stock to puree the vegetables (you can put them through a food mill or sieve if you don’t have an immersion blender). Add the cabbage and simmer until the cabbage is cooked, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, get the meat off of the bones and cut it into spoon-sized pieces, removing any connective tissue, silver skin, or gristle that may still be there. Add the meat back into the pot.

Once the cabbage is cooked, turn off the heat. Add the kraut and stir thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. My grandmother had a heavy hand with the black pepper.


FAST Cabbage Borscht

Fat to sauté in

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

½ C apple cider

2 quarts of stock (any will do, including vegetable stock)

16 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 medium head of cabbage

1 -1 ½ C homemade sauerkraut

salt and pepper to taste


In the bottom of a large pot, heat the fat. Add the onion sauté until it starts to become translucent and then add the carrots. Cook until the carrots start to caramelize. Add the apple cider and use it to help scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.

Add the stock and crushed tomatoes. Let this simmer for about 45 minutes.

Cut and core the cabbage. Slice into spoon-sized pieces.

After 45 minutes, run an immersion blender through the stock to puree the vegetables.

Add the cabbage and let simmer for 30 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked.

Once the cabbage is cooked, turn off the heat and add the kraut. Stir thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

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