Samuel Clemens’ remark that the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco, could be modified to include May and June in San Diego, when morning and afternoon cloud cover keeps the air cool and moist. The clouds typically burn off by afternoon, but lately there have been days of full cloud cover. Don’t mind it a bit myself, it makes the air smells soooo good at night, and there is really lots and lots of sun the rest of the year, so I enjoy the elemental change; but its true it doesn’t exactly feel like summer in San Diego until July.

Here is a lovely easy mild colorful soup that is perfect for this so called gloom, as it is clean, light, and just slightly warming,not heat producing like a true winter soup, so even if the weather turns hot suddenly you can still enjoy this dish.

The theme of any kind of Borscht (also called Borsch) is shredded cabbage, and the other veggies in this recipe are shredded, too, except for the potato, which stands pleasingly out,then,in that special way that only large chunks of potato can. I shred my veggies on an old grater, by hand; i both like the size that produces, and i dislike the sound of the food processor, one less high decibel motor to contend with.

This soup is wonderful pureed, too, with a little bread crumbs or cooked barley.
It can even be served cold in summer, with a little yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream.

Ingredients to make about 4-5 cups of soup

3 cups shredded cabbage
1 medium to large potato, i like white or red here
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded beet
1/4 cup shredded bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped tomato or tomato juice
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped, can use dry dill, too.
1-2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
a little oil for sauteing, say, 1 tbsp
1.5 quarts water

1. In a large heavy pot lightly saute onions, cabbage, potato, carrot and bell pepper (everything but the beet and tomato) for about 5 minutes on a low flame.
2. If using fresh dill, set it aside and add at the end, about 10 minutes before serving.
3. If using dry dill, add it and the beets, tomato, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and water.
4. Cook on a low flame until the vegetables are tender to your taste, for me this is about 20 minutes.

Yields two to three quarts of soup

Notes: There are as many ways to make Borscht as there are babushkas. Other good veggies are turnip, rutabaga, celery. Heck, this is the USA, make it with apricots instead of tomato, or butternut squash instead of carrot. Make an turkmenistani borscht with curry powder or cumin and coriander. Make a Thai borscht with lemongrass…:-)

There is a traditional borscht like this with both beans and beef that I had, years ago, in a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village, New York City, with a side of fantastic dark sour rye bread. That, and the pureed red garlicky beet borscht my grandmother used to serve in the summer with sour cream are memories and recipes for another day.


Pitta types may want to delete the tomato, bell and black pepper, and use a small amount of sweeter yoghurt or sour cream for garnishing. Make it a little sweeter with more carrot and less sour with out the tomato, even adding a bitter green like dandelion.

I am suggesting sweet white onion or yellow onion, as they are milder in terms of pitta aggravation. Kapha types could use the stimming effect of a sharper onion like red spanish onion, and could avoid the potato.

Vata does not typically do well with cabbage, on the other hand does well with both sour and sweet, so could decrease the cabbage and increase the carrot, potato, and beet.

Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Pin It on Pinterest