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Everyday Borsch

Serves 4-6 with left-overs


  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 700 g 1 lb 9 oz cauliflower (1/2 large one, or 1 small- sub with 2 heads of broccoli)
  • ¼ white cabbage or 1/2 a wombok
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 2-3 waxy potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks thinly sliced, tops reserved for garnishing
  • 2 beetroot 400 g/14 oz, shredded
  • 12 cups 3 litres vegetable/chicken stock/water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons sauerkraut or pickle brine optional

To serve

  • dill sprigs
  • crusty bread or dinner rolls
  • grated garlic
  • sour cream or crème fraîche


  • Whack the onion and garlic into a big saucepan with the olive oil. Let them start to sizzle over medium heat, then pop the lid on and let the onion sweat away in its own juices for 5–10 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, turn the cauliflower upside down and cut into the core at an angle, so that the florets all come off with a pull. Now pull them apart until they’re bite-sized. Set aside.
  • Once the onion has sweated down and is fragrant, add the cabbage, carrot, potato, celery, and beetroot. Pour in the stock, then supplement with extra water (preferably filtered) until your pan of choice is three-quarters full. Squeeze in the lemon juice (to keep the brightness of the beetroot) and add a good pinch of salt.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until the shredded beetroot is easily bitten through, but not mushy, the potatoes fork tender, and the cauliflower softened slightly; keeping some ‘bite’ here is the key for both flavour and texture.
  • Pour in enough brine that you can taste it, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the reserved celery leaves and serve with sour cream, grated garlic and crusty bread – or what you will!


- This is one dish where schmaltz (chicken fat, duck fat) or dripping adds to the flavour in a most delightful way. You could also add a little butter when sweating the onions, if you were that way inclined.
- Some babushkas add a tablespoon or so of jam (plum or apricot work well) to bring out the beets’ natural sweetness more. You can do this at the end if need be.
- You can make this plant-based by using olive oil and vegetable stock, and a vegan sour cream alternative to finish.