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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