Russian Cabbage Borscht

No beets in this recipe. Think of this soup as stuffed cabbage without all the work of making the rolls. First serving can be your main dish with the meat left on the bone and served with a horseradish/mayonnaise sauce if you like. Leftovers can be the start of a warm, wintery meal. This one’s from my childhood; an interpretation of a handful of this and a handful of that. Enjoy!


  • 3 strips of flanken meat (short ribs), about 1 ½ pounds
  • 2 ½ quarts water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 15 ½ ounce can peeled tomatoes in liquid
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1medium or ½ large head of cabbage finely sliced into shreds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • Lemon juice, optional
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar or to taste

Preparation Instructions

  1. Rinse off meat and place in a 4 quart pot. Add the water and bring to a boil and simmer for ½ hour, skimming the top of the soup occasionally to remove the brown foam.
  2. Add the onion, which has been pierced 4 or 5 times with a sharp knife to allow the flavor of the onion to permeate the soup without having the onion disintegrate.
  3. Squeeze the canned tomatoes through your fingers so that you get uneven strings of crushed tomato. Add this and any liquid from the can to the pot. Add the tomato sauce.
  4. Add the shredded cabbage, salt and pepper to taste and the raisins to the soup pot and cook for 1 ½ hours lightly covered.
  5. After 1 ½ hours, add the brown sugar and adjust the seasonings to your taste using some lemon juice if needed to balance the sweet and sour taste. Cook for ½ hour more. Remove the onion, break up the meat into pieces and remove the bones and serve.
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  1. Thank you, that wasvery interesting. I was born in Russia in 1975 but my parents fled and came here in Britain. Truthfully, I didnt care much about my russian past until my mum died recently, now I’ve been trying to find out as much as I can. Seemed like food was as good a place as any to start ! You dont generally hear much about russian cuisine do you? Anyway, I found a lot of russian recipes here that your readers might be interested in .

  2. Outstanding !!!!!!!

  3. This recipe is outstanding. I used more of the tomato ingredients than listed; 15 oz of sauce and a large can of peeled tomatoes.

  4. I love this soup! It reminds me of my bubbie’s stuffed cabbage, which was the best ever due to the lemon in it. I used to use chuck roast, but usually had to take it out when the soup was finished and continue cooking it until fork tender, which could be quite a while! Though not as traditional, little meatballs are just as good- same flavor and easier to deal with. (Wouldn’t you have ground meat in stuffed cabbage?) Just make the soup the day before so you can skim off the fat the next day.

    This recipe is a keeper- perfect for a Jewish holiday or a cold winter night! With good bread and a salad or fruit, it is an excellent meal.

  5. Thank you! glad you enjoyed and I agree about the meatballs

  6. This is my family’s recipe, which we all love, except for a few things. So wonderful on a cold day!

    We always use “sour salt” (aka citric acid) and not lemon juice.

    We boil the meat and other ingredients much longer, and add the cabbage in the final hour or two.

    Like Rhoda, we skim off the fat. We just put the pot out in the winter cold, and the fat solidifies on top.

    I have to disagree with Rhoda on one point. The problem with using meatballs is that there are no bones to suck the soup from! Try it and you will find yourself dropping them back in the soup, to suck them again!

    We also put in potatoes, quartered, in the last hour of boiling. Yes, they will dissolve into mush as the days pass, but the soup never lasts that long.

  7. I was looking to duplicate the excellent cabbage borscht at The Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill, NJ. After messing with this a bit, I think I came pretty close (flavorful but not quite as intense). I stuck to the recipe pretty closely but added a bay leaf, extra sugar, and some cider vinegar. I also took the advice of another poster and added more tomatoes/tomato sauce. I left it to cook pretty much all afternoon. Next time I’ll sear the meat before cooking to give it more flavor. It hit the spot on a cold evening.

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