BFF Manfriend’s Recipe for Borscht (Another Way To Use Up Seasonal Produce)

So our friends Quincy and Emily were kind enough to offer us their CSA share from the farm this week while they were gone (we have a garden instead of the CSA this year). Q and E knew we were missing having so many beets around to make one of our summer and fall favorites…borscht. This is a delicious way to use up those bumper crops of beets and other random vegetables you just don’t know what to do about. We hadn’t cooked with beets at all before borscht.. we love beets now, even in all their earthiness. All because of borscht. Borscht!!!

We first learned about borscht — a beet-based, beautifully purple or crimson colored soup — when we were volunteering at a summer camp for children who are adopted from Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russia. This “heritage camp” (click here for more information on this fantastic organization) is for the whole family, and offers opportunities for these kiddos (and their siblings) to learn more about the culture of their birth countries through activities, art, dance, music, stories, performances, and food. The BFF Manfriend and I had the privilege of being counselors with the same heritage group both summers — Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (it was scheduling coincidence, as there are other groups each week — Africa, Latin America, China, etc.). Anywho, it was during this time that we got to meet some great kids, and try out some unique REECA cuisine, borscht being the highlight.

The recipe below– made by the BFF Manfriend himself — is for a more “Russian” style borscht, I suppose, although it lacks the potato element that is very popular because I can’t really eat white potatoes. It is also vegan, whereas some places prefer to add some meat. Like all food, it varies by region. (Ben Hogue, what is it like in Ukraine?)

Here is what you need to know about borscht:
2) You can substitute just about any vegetable for whatever you have on hand.
3) Borscht is best served cool or at room temperature. Seriously. Promise.

This was actually the first recipe my husband ever made completely on his own — no recipe, no advice, nothing. Pure creativity. This is a huge milestone, because the man used to be afraid to boil water without a recipe… almost seriously. Over time, he has become an amazing cook! The number one most important factor? Hint: not skill…

Confidence — along with openness and adventure. He learned that you just have to be willing to take the risk of making mistakes, because you can usually correct them anyway. Not sure what [insert spice/ingredient here] will do to your pot of something? Shake-a shake-a shake-a, and taste along the way. Play around! Enjoy the process! Good things happen:

This recipe will yield half of what the BFF Manfriend usually makes in our big stockpot. What can I say? He’s a domestic divinity. [applause]

1/2 onion, chopped (we use red)
1/2 head of garlic, chopped (yes, as in the cloves in a bunch — not just one clove)
4 beets (ours were smallish)
4 C water
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 bunch chard, chopped or ripped into pieces (~ 6 leafs and stalks — the stalks are great for soup!)
2 yellow squash (or zucchini, or a mix)
1/2 Tb salt (you might want to use less)
1/2 Tb ground pepper (use less if you don’t like spice)
1 tsp oregano

1) In the bottom of a large pot, saute chopped onions and garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium. When soft, add chopped beets. Sprinkle a little salt on mixture.
2) Add remaining ingredients, except for squash. Let reach a soft boil.
3) Turn heat down, and add squash. Let simmer until desired texture.

My Husband likes to boil his vegetables to a near-mush when he makes soup sometimes, so I have left it somewhat ambiguous how to tell when the soup is ready. Do what you will! But if you do anything, eat it lukewarm, at the very least : )

Have you tried borscht? Are you intrigued?

I think kids love how unique the color is.

(Add more water or [almond/rice] milk to get a pink hue!)

P.S. Sorry my photos are lacking quality lately… Someone please buy me a DSLR. I pay in doughballs and dessert hummus! : D

Related posts:


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kara Bout It