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How to Cook Mennonite Style Borscht

Cabbage - CookingWithKimberly.comLearning how to cook Mennonite Style Borscht is something we don’t take lightly in our family. We make this cabbage soup often, especially in the colder months of the year. One side of my family has Mennonite roots. We are German, but hailing from Russia, on my mother’s side.

My other side is Ukrainian and they are well known for eating borscht too!

“I love Borscht! I’m giving you our secret family recipe that’s been passed down for generations. It is a delicious, stick-to-your-bones winter soup that is healthy and low in fat! The red and green beauty of this soup makes it ideal for Entertaining during the Holidays or anytime you need a Russian soul food fix!” ~ Kimberly Edwards

Borscht has peasant roots because cabbage and meat bones were very inexpensive and typically, all many could afford. Being extremely industrious, the peasants created this fabulous soup that obviously has been embellished over the years, but has it’s style from eras gone by.

The recipe may seem like it calls for a lot of ingredients, but have no fear – it will all be worth it to get the perfect, authentic flavor we crave.

Type: Soup Recipe
Serve With: Sour cream and/or vinegar, fresh, crusty bread
Prep Time: ~ 15 min
Cook Time: ~ 1 hr, 30 min
Yield: 1 stock pot full


  • 1 lb of beef shank or steak – if the beef is bone-in, it will weigh more.
  • 4 large carrots – chopped
  • 2 celery stalks – chopped
  • 2 large onions – chopped
  • 2 large beets – peeled & chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – whole
  • 3/4 tbsp sea salt – plus more to taste, if necessary, at the end
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cabbage – sliced into edible pieces; green or purple variety
  • 16 oz can of  tomatoes – I use my mother’s canned tomatoes from the summer.
  • ~ 8 peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley – chopped; or 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill – chopped; or 1 tbsp dried dill
  • * 1/8 tsp dill seeds – optional, but I love them!
  • 2 whole cloves – a family secret in our soups
  • 1 pinch nutmeg – freshly ground is best.
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 large potatoes – diced
  • freshly cracked black pepper – to taste
  • * 1 can/bottle beer – optional, but very tasty
  • ~ 3/4 stock pot full water – chicken stock or tea work well too
  • ???? ???????????


  1. * If you’re using beef shanks or bones, preheat oven to 420 degrees. (If you don’t want to brown the meat first, see below to step #5 to see how to prepare the beef.) Place bones evenly into a baking dish that has been greased with vegetable or olive oil. Brown in oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until nicely browned, turning halfway through. * Tip: If you like, you may add your chopped mirepoix/vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, plus in this case beets) onto a greased cookie sheet into the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until nicely browned, but this is optional.
  2. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot on medium heat with about 1 tbsp oil and add browned vegetables. * Tip: add 1/2 can tomato paste if desired and stir on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Add bones or shanks to the mixture, deglaze your baking dish with beer, stock or water as long as the sucs (baked on dry bits) aren’t burned and add to the stock pot.
  4. Add cabbage, spices and tomatoes, and put it on high heat.
  5. Fill stock pot to approximately 3/4 full of water (+ beer, if desired).
  6. * If you would like to make this soup without browning the meat in the oven, wash beef and trim of excess fat, if desired, and put into water. Turn down heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil (~ 15-20 min). Turn down to medium heat. * Tip: You can use frozen beef too!
  7. Once beef is cooked thoroughly, remove from pot and cut off bones, if you used this type of cut. Cut meat into edible chunks and return back to pot.  * Tip: You will want to skim off the foamy, beige junk that will accumulate on the top of the soup. Just take a large spoon and skim it off and discard it. These are the impurities of the meat, called the leas.
  8. Add potatoes and let simmer for 20 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with sour cream and/or vinegar, and fresh crusty bread.

This soup is serious soul food for me – the smell & taste reminds me of my childhood at my grandmother’s farmhouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario!

Love this soup? Check out my Nontraditional Borscht recipe called Twisted Borscht Soup – a healthier version that you can make with chicken, if you like.


I hope you enjoyed this Russian Food Recipe on Cooking with Kimberly! Until next time…

Eat Deliciously,

Kimberly Edwards 🙂

P.S. Be sure to check out the Cooking with Kimberly Store for neat foodie products!

[tags]Russian food recipe, Russian recipe, traditional borscht, Russian borscht, Russian soup, Eastern European food recipes, Eastern European food, Mennonite borscht, Mennonite food, how to cook borscht, borscht, borscht recipe, cabbage soup, cabbage recipes[/tags]

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Author: Kimberly Turner

Kimberly Turner is the web-chef behind CookingWithKimberly.com.

Food writer, food consultant and general lover of the delicious treats on our planet, Kimberly brings you hearty content, delicious offerings, fun antics, and some down-home cooked love with her mom making cameos.

Internet entrepreneur and marketer, International model, and Editor-in-Chief of a number of online publications.

Be a Champion in Your Kitchen & Eat Deliciously!

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  1. Your description of this recipe is making me crave for it. I’m ready to go Mennonite!

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  2. It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC. By the Middle Ages it was a prominent part of European cuisine, although savoys were not developed until the 16th century. Cabbage heads are generally picked during the first year of the plants’ life cycles, but those intended for seed are allowed to grow a second year, and must be kept separated from other cole crops to prevent cross pollination.

    Post a Reply
    • Well, Ellsworth…you are certainly a cabbage aficionado!

      Thank you for all that valuable info & history.

      Come back by,

      Kimberly 🙂

      Post a Reply
  3. Wow, now that is a great recipe. Born in Germany I spend plenty of time with friend from Poland and Russia as well as other countries. My family always cooked and that is why we started our little blog. This Borscht was not known to me and I love the way you put your recipes together. We can learn from that :). This will be certainly on our try list. I just wish we could eat 4 times a day to get this list all done.
    Thank you,

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you, Achim, for the thoughtful comment.

      Nice to “meet” you, and yes, German food is often overlooked as serious eats! Yes, eating 4x a day would make things a lot quicker trying all these tasty ideas out, wouldn’t it?

      I checked out your site! Very cool! I love sharing & learning about more authentic recipes…It’s important to me to try and get the right flavors & techniques down for different ethnic cuisines…

      This borscht was something my grandmother & mother would make regularly, especially in the colder months. Keeps you healthy! 😉

      Hope to see you around here again…Have a marvelous week!

      Kimberly 🙂

      Post a Reply

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