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white borscht recipe polish white borscht recipe
Photo credit Sonya Sanford

White Borscht

In this white borscht, the subtle puckeryness comes both from the inclusion of sourdough bread and fresh lemon juice, the latter being an ingredient my baba (grandmother) always added to her borscht regardless of its color. 

  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, green tops trimmed, halved lengthwise then sliced
  • 1 large (½ lb /230 g) parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (1 lb /500 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 2” pieces
  • 1 (12 oz/340 g) package turkey kielbasa, beef kielbasa or your preferred smoked sausage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 ½ quarts (10 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups sliced cabbage, about ½ a small cabbage
  • 3 slices (3 oz /100 g) sourdough bread, crusts removed and cubed
  • juice of ½ a lemon, or to taste
  • ½ bunch fresh dill, chopped, for garnish
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

  1. To a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, then add the onion, leeks, parsley and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften and start to become slightly translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic to the pot, and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until very fragrant.
  3. Add the potatoes, whole kielbasa/sausage and bay leaves to the pot, then pour in the stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. 
  4. Remove the kielbasa/sausage and reserve. Add the cubed sourdough bread and sliced cabbage to the pot, and simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes and cabbage are very tender. 
  5. Turn off the heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can use a blender or food processor and blend the soup in batches; avoid filling the blender/food processor more than ¾ full. 
  6. Add the juice of half a lemon to the pot, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired by adding more salt, pepper or additional lemon juice. 
  7. Slice the reserved kielbasa and add it back to the pot.
  8. To serve, generously garnish each bowl with freshly chopped dill and parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil. If desired, serve topped with sliced hard-boiled egg. 

Notes

  1. To make this gluten-free: Use gluten-free sourdough, or omit the bread entirely, and swap with an additional potato.
  2. To make this vegetarian/vegan: Omit the sausage and swap vegetable broth or vegan bouillon for chicken stock. The soup will be less smoky without sausage, but it is still a delicious vegetable soup. Make sure to season generously with salt and pepper. Top with sour cream at the end for extra richness.
  3. For extra texture: when adding the sliced sausage back to the pot, reserve ½ of the slices and fry them up in a pan just before serving; then top each bowl with browned rounds of the sausage. Sourdough croutons also make for a great textural topping. 
  4. If you don’t have a blender or food processor: You can keep this soup chunky and skip pureeing it, but I’d suggest omitting the sourdough bread, and instead replacing it with more fresh lemon juice or another acidic component like vinegar or sauerkraut.
  5. Make ahead: White borscht lasts up to one week in the fridge, and up to three months frozen.
  • Author: Sonya Sanford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Soup
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi