Doukhobor Borscht

How To Make Delicious Doukhobor Borscht

The Russians know cold. But instead of blogging about how much vodka you can safely consume in a sitting, I decided to post this recipe for a tummy-warming vegetarian soup called Doukhobor Borscht. I find that as November closes in, I’m drawn to soup like a sock to a static-charged skirt.

Babushka Reb teach you make soup!

You may have encountered BORSCHT before, but it was probably the straight-up purple variety. That stuff is yummy, there’s no doubt, but it’s got nothin’ on DOUKHOBOR BORSCHT. Creamy, flavourful and jam-packed with a mighty assortment of vegetables, I stand by this recipe as the ultimate borscht.

The Doukhobors are a sect of Russian Christians who immigrated to Canada in the 19th century. They settled in south-eastern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I found this particular recipe in Grand Forks, B.C. in a museum. So I know it’s authentic. FACT.

For your convenience: a printable borscht recipe.

Ingredients for Doukhobor Borscht

***please note that in the demonstration photos, I’ve halved the recipe, but the amounts listed here are for the full batch. If you make the whole thing, it’s going to be a large vat of liquid nutrition***

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 quart (1.13 litres) canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small beet, grated
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 lb (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp dill leaves (I prefer a big handful of chopped, fresh dill instead)

Brace yourself for beet hands!

You’ll need two pots for this operation, one major soup-pot (especially if you’re making the whole batch) and one medium pot.


How to make Doukhobor Russian Borscht Soup(1) In the medium pot: melt half the butter and fry the onion until glossy and translucent. Add the tomatoes, grated carrot, half the beet and half the green pepper.

Boil for 20 minutes, stirring constantly and breaking up the tomatoes with your rustic wooden spoon.

It will turn into a rich red stew (2).

Meanwhile, in the major soup pot, boil 3.5 litres of water (3).

To this water, add 3 potatoes (cut in half), the remaining beet, diced carrot, celery and a generous dash of salt. This will be the foundation of your soup. Boil until the potatoes are done.

When they’re soft, fish out the potatoes and mash them in a separate bowl. Set them aside (4).

Doukhobor Borscht recipe - adding cream

Now add the remaining butter (1/2 cup), whipping cream and 3 diced potatoes to the major pot.

Boil for 1 minute, then add the tomato stew you boiled earlier.

Add the cabbage and mashed potatoes as well. Bring to a boil, then add the remaining green pepper and the dill. Season well with salt and pepper.

Let it simmer for a while to deepen the flavour.

Doukhobor Borscht Recipe by The Life Nostalgic Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of dill. I served mine with homemade biscuits, but a nice chunk of whole grain bread would be good too.

Enjoy your authentic Doukhobor Borscht! Leave me a comment if you intend to make this.

89 thoughts on “How To Make Delicious Doukhobor Borscht

  1. My wife and I went to ‘The Borscht Bowl’ in Grande Forks at the end of September this year and remembered how much we liked Borscht. Now that the snow is flying, it seems like a fantastic thing to make.

    Your recipe sounds fantastic, so I will be making it today or tomorrow.

  2. Sorry, but it isn’t Borsch. Close, similar but it’s not.

    First of all – it is Ukrainian sup, not Russian.
    It must be based on bouillon…
    But the most important thing – boiling time needs to be adjusted to the specific ingredient cooking timing so all together each and every ingredient will be collected with maximum flavor and maximum utility.
    Borsch is really complicate to cook but once you understand how to do it you’ll never regret effort you spent. :)

    • Um… Yeah… There are Russians, there are Doukhobors, and yes we do make our own variety of Borscht. Although the ingredients differ, it IS REAL AUTHENTIC BORSCHT. Our ancestors immigrated and have been making this style of borscht in Canada for more than 100 years… It is real.

      • I have to differ. It is not the “authentic Doukhobour borscht”. Our borscht has never been served with “dopple” of sour cream. I am a douk and have been making borscht since I was a child (nearly 50years ago). Restaurants may serve this to customers because of requests, however only Ukraine style is with sour cream. Our recipe compared to this is much different as the secret is in the way it is put together. Veggies are diced, not chunked, potatoes are mashed, tomatoes are blended, dill is a must & sour cream is not.
        saying “Authentic” is an embarrassment to our Doukhobour borscht. So sorry.
        I wouldn’t sell this to my customers for they know our Doukhobour borscht and they stretch from around the globe.
        Happy cooking!

        • There are many and more versions of “authentic” Ukrainian, Russian, and Doukhobor Borscht or Borsch, none of which I consider to be an “embarrasment,” and all are fabulously delicious.

          • Yes Heather, thanks for saying that. It seems absurd that people comment bashing any version of borscht.

            • First off, for anyone with a negative comment about Miss Reb’s version of borscht, if you are such an expert on borscht making why are you browsing recipes anyway? And second, did you try this recipe out in lieu of your obviously superior version and actually taste it, because it’s amazing.

  3. I have made this recipe….probably more than fifty times.Its amazing!!!!!I also went to the borshct bowl in grande forks and couldnt get this soup out of my mind.Your recipe is perfect and is exactly like the doukhbour borscht of grande forks.Thank you!This is a recipe i will never forget.Cheers!

  4. Oleg, I assure you, this recipe is Russian. I grew up with a ton of Doukhobors in Castlegar, BC, and this IS how they make it. This one is not a meat stock, it’s only vegetables. That’s what makes it different. And thanks so much for the Recipe Rebecca! Think I’m gonna attempt this today. Wish me luck!

  5. My mother was doukhobor from Ooteschenia, (castlegar) this is authentic and different from Ukrainian borscht. Oleg, this is real borscht I can promise you. Thanks for taking the time to go to the museum for this and sharing : ) doukhobors were vegetarians, no meat.

  6. This recipe is great! I’m not a huge fan of beet borscht, which is all I can ever find to buy in my town. I made your recipe today and it was awesome, exactly what I wanted. I added some chicken bouillon for extra flavour, but that was the only adjustment I made. Thank you for posting this!!!

  7. I am going to try your recipe, I want to see how it companies to mine. My grandmother used to make both kinds of borscht , but my favorite is doukobor borscht, when we make it, and yes the recipe makes a lot , me Andy mom can eat the whole pot in a day it is that good. If you would like to try my recipe to see how you like it let me know. And yes mine is authentic as well.

  8. Hey excellent, my Mom was wondering how to make this borscht and she is an old fashioned lady and never considered I would be able to find it for her on the net. She will be so happy as she doesnt like the meat based russian borsht. I will also try it, but unfortunately I like meat! I will substitute the water with turkey stock…thanks!

  9. I was scouring the net today trying to decide which Borscht recipe to use today and came across this. I spent the better part of my 26 years living in Grand Forks so it only seems right to make this recipe. In regards to Oleg’s comment; this is borscht. The reality is that Russians, Ukrainian’s, and Polish all claim that their borscht is the true borscht and the others are something imposters.

  10. There are so many variations of borscht, depending on the region it comes from. My heritage is Polish, and our “borscht”, or “barszcz” is a clear soup made from soured beets. They are all delicious! I learned this delicious recipe after visiting Nelson, B.C. which is close to Castlegar, where the Doukhobours have settled over 100 years ago.

  11. I received my Borscht recipe from my father in law who grew up in Grey Creek, close to Nelson which is dukabor country in BC. Mine has even more pots going with pan frying the cabbage in a ton of butter as well as the beet ( i use 3-4 small beets peeled and cubed)- carrot broth pot, and russetts in another pot of water boiling to mash. To the spuds – after mashing i add another 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup whipping cream, and dollops of sour cream. Then all goes into the Dutch oven beet pot adding canned or stewed tomatoes last. Simmer for 20 mins and serve with another dollop of sour cream. This is incredibly rich soup. The pan fried cabbage is the special trick i think. You dont brown it but coat it in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I was even given a hand carved spoon – traditional dukabor implement.
    Drain and discard spud water. Not used in this recipe – only the beet carrot broth which is about 4 cups. Chunks of beet are perfectly cooked as well. Yummy!

  12. Borscht is delicious anyway you make it. Traditionally being from a doukhobor back ground we have had it the way listed. Recently I was able to travel back to the motherland and found they had about 50+ different variations of borscht on the menues at different restaraunts. This made me experiment and try out different versions. To date I have made about 10 different types but find you can’t beet (a little borscht pun) the traditional doukhobor way. Thanks for sharing your reciepe.

  13. For the Love of Borscht

    I discovered Doukhobor Borscht at the Yale Hotel in the late 1970’s when I first camped in Christina Lake. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I also discovered that Ann

    • my great grandmother who recently just passed away used to make the borscht at the yale hotel, I wish she had an exact recipe written down but she just did it all from memory. This soup looks very similar to hers though!

      • Katrian

        I salute your gr-grandma. I had a recipe given to me in the 70s by an elderly doukabor lady. It is so delicious. The only thing that was the same as that recipe was from the yale hotel. Everytime we’d be driving through Grand Forks (a few times a year), we’d always stop and have a bowl of borscht at the Yale Hotel. Later on, I’d stop in myself on the way through and get a big batch to bring to my parents in Genelle. A very nice memory to have of your gr-grandma.

    • Hi Jaz,
      I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that as I’ve never tried. I probably wouldn’t try, either as you’d be increasing the water content by a huge degree.

      If you give it a go, let me know how it turns out!

  14. I just made this. I swapped out the whipping cream for coconut milk though, but it turned out amazing!!! This borsht is absolutely delicious. When I was younger I refused to eat borsht because I thought it looked gross… so many years wasted!!!

  15. I made this soup today and must say it took a lot of doctoring up to make it palatable. First it needed about 5 cloves of garlic, some garlic powder, salt and pepper, and it still is far from tasting like a good soup that I make when I follow the recipes for Ukrainian Borscht. Maybe I expected too much of it but in my estimation, you cannot beat Ukrainian Borscht which starts with pork ribs, cooked with the necessary garlic, dill and other spices then topped off with sour cream. My wife kept after me to change the recipe but I wouldn’t. I wanted to follow it exactly. I can see now that she knew what she was talking about. Sure wish I could have made a good soup today but I will next time because it will be Ukrainian borscht.

    • Hi Don,

      Sorry you had such a negative experience with the soup but a vegetarian soup will naturally taste quite a bit different than something that is based on pork. I can assure you this is an authentic recipe from Grand Forks that has been loved for years. To each their own!

      • If Donald wanted Ukrainian Borscht – why was he making Doukhobor Borscht? There is no comparison except that there are vegetable in both of them. That would be like wanting a vegetable Chinese food dish and complaining because the Mexican Fajita’s didn’t taste as good.

  16. I was delighted to find this recipe :-) I thought I’d have to go back to Grand Forks–probably 12 hours from here. I had the soup there in the early 90’s; it rated among my top 3 favourite soups in the world.
    I made a very acceptable Volynian (German/Ukrainian) borscht today and then saw your recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Thanks for the recipe. I made this tonight and missed the part about it being a full batch so looks like we have soup for a while. The only thing that confused me was the part about the potatoes. I understand there are 6 potatoes and 3 go into the soup stock. The other 3 are diced but are they cooked or raw? I also added a few more beets because I thought it didn’t look red enough but when I came back to the computer and saw your picture yours is not too red either. Oh well, it still tastes great thanks again.

  18. Hey Reb! I got a giant box of veggies (locally-grown) earlier this week and have a cabbage the size of a large cat and a giant bag of beets. So of course I decided to make borscht. Your recipe comes up pretty high on the Google results. :)

  19. made your borscht today ,used all fresh vegetables including boiled down tomatoes
    it was just like my mother nastia holoboff [maiden name] used to make .never liked the ukranian version ,even though they claim it is the was the best. spaciba.

  20. Have a pot of the borscht on the stove right now. I followed the recipe except I did not add any diced potatoes, just the mashed taters that were boiled in the stock. There is lots and I cannot wait to taste!

  21. I have made your Doukhobor Borscht and it is very, very good! Perfect for this time of year. I had been hearing of this version from an ex who lived in the Kootenays, as he preferred the one that is not “beet-heavy”. Thank you so much for posting this!


  22. I also have good memories of trips through Grand Forks and bowls of the Borsht at the old Yale Hotel. I actually found the recipe in a KIRO recipe book (Seattle radio station fundraiser book) and it is very much like what Kathryn Grant described as well. It is fantastic…and worth all the work!!!

  23. I made this borscht this week, as per my husband’s request. He grew up in the West Kootenays (not too far from Grand Forks). We try to bring jars of borscht back every time we visit, as it is such a treat from the area. Low and behold, he said this borscht was the best he’s ever had. Awesome recipe. A keeper, for sure. Next time we visit the Kootenays, we are going to bring the borscht!

    • Hello Rebecca! I have been making this recipe for several years. I call it Castlegar Airport Borscht because that is where I enjoy it each and every time I fly into Castlegar (weather permitting, as you probably know).
      I had been preparing it based on taste and was so pleased to know that I’d almost got the recipe perfect based on my taste buds. I put more beets in, is all, and green onions rather than an onion.
      Also, I can’t resist a little garlic. Thank you for this!

  24. So–I finally made the Doukabor borscht–it was yummy but not exactly what I remembered. Maybe our (my husbands and mine) memories have morphed over the decades. We’ve decided it was a long time ago–probably the late 70’s or 80’s not 90’s.

    This is what I do remember: a cold damp day, a cozy dining room–it may have had a fire–with the love of my life–prior to the distraction of kids–and having this absolutely amazing soup. We don’t know where it was–Castlegar? Grandforks? Nelson? We had gone to a building that had a Doukabor exhibit–I think they told us where to go for the soup. So my quest for the ultimate borscht is not over. Poor me, I’ll have to try some wherever I get the chance :-)

    To address the fresh tomato question: your ancestors and mine used home grown tomatoes. I vaguely remembered that one doesn’t generally want tomato skins in soups and sauces–they are tough and don’t disintegrate into a sauce. To get the skins off you plunge them into boiling water for 30 seconds or so and then into cold water. The skins then slip off easily. Fill a jar or measuring cup with skinned tomatoes to the right amount and add water or tomato juice to the top of the tomatoes. At this stage you would can them but for borscht you can just use them right away. This is equivalent to canned.

    Because my husband really likes Ukrainian borscht–the most common one here in central Alberta and the one he would have grown up with, I cooked some several times before I made the Doukabor borscht. Although he is a committed carnivore all the cream and butter does make this soup very attractive to him :-)

  25. Ah! This is exactly what I was looking for! I’ve been going to Grand Forks and eating the borscht there since I was little. Thank you!

  26. I grew up doukhabor. This is a very nice recipe.
    Each home has it’s own version of it. All similar.
    However I felt like Oleg when I tasted Ukranian borscht.
    I love what I grew up with. All other borscht is odd to me.
    This for me is the taste of my home. Served w fresh bread,
    Tons of cut veggies and cheese. Thanks for posting!

  27. I grew up eating this as my mother’s side of the family were Doukhobor Russians. This looks exactly like the soup I loved so much as a child and I intend to make it this weekend. Thanks so much for posting this!

  28. I used to live in Slocan BC where there is a large concentration of Doukhobors so needless to say we ate a lot of borscht :) Yours is the closest to theirs I have seen – although quite often they added beef or pork. I am definitely going to try your recipe. Thanks!

  29. This borscht so far looks like what my grandmother used to make when she was alive. I and my youngest daughter will be enjoying soon . : )

  30. Made some tonight by following the recipe exactly, except for using red peppers instead of green. Tastes absolutely amazing and is just like how I remember it from the Grand Forks Hotel and the Borscht Bowl!

    Here is a picture of the batch:

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  31. This looks very similar to my Baba’s borscht. At my Deda’s funeral (Paul Samsonoff) in Castlegar the ladies used over 120 lbs of butter!

  32. The saying goes that there are as many recipes for Doukhobor borscht as their are doukhobor cooks. My recipe came from a Doukhobor cookbook printed in Grand Forks BC many years ago and closely resembles yours. I make the full recipe and either freeze it or can it. It freezes and cans well. I understand the Doukhobors are vegetarian and I understand that the Ukrainian borscht has more beets and no cabbage.

  33. Love this recipe and I may be going to Grand Forks in a few weeks so I’ll look for the musuem that houses the recipe. That will be so much fun!

  34. oh wow, can’t wait to try this! We just visited the Borscht Bowl this past weekend :) We were blown away by the borscht. So happy to find your recipe!

  35. Our car broke down in Grand Forks in 1976 and we had to spend 5 days there waiting for parts. I fell in love with the Doukabour borscht and bought a cookbook while there with the recipe. I made the soup often until a dubious neighbour stole the cookbook. Having been raised on Polish/Ukrainian borscht (chicken stock, beets, carrot, potatoe, onion and cabbage but no meat), I found this a delightful change. In my many years, I have found that borscht recipes abound from household to household and county to country. I do remember the abundance of butter and cream, which makes it so delicious. I am ever so grateful to have found this recipe again. One of the local farmers markets has a vendor that sells fresh farm cream – yum!

  36. Does anyone have the recipe from the Yale Hotel? Can you share it please? I used to have it. My mom bought it from the hotel back in the early 80’s before it burned down. Somehow I lost that recipe. So sad.

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  38. Well, I grew up in Grand Forks…. and this is fairly similar to the Doukhabour borscht that I grew up with. Minus the beets. Minus the sour cream. A must would be the thick slice of homemade bread with LOTS of butter on it, to eat with the borscht.

  39. I forgot to add… never in all my life have I ever heard about Doukhabours being called Russian Christians. They have some similar beliefs, but they are not Christians. Sorry!

    • Excuse me. If not Christian then what. The name itself means “Christian Spirituality”. Certainly they are not Jews, Muslims, Hindus or whatever.

  40. So…I don’t care what they are, they make damn good borscht. I dumped all of my recipe books before my big move and forgot to copy out my Doukhobor Borscht recipe. Thank you for saving me from a borshtless life.

    • Hi Sandra:

      I have made this recipe for a couple of years now, but it makes way too much for my wife and I. So, I put the leftovers in a ziplock baggie and bring it out whenever we want to warm up and eat hardy. I always put the cream in as the recipe calls for during the initial cooking, but usually add a dollop of sour cream at serving.

      Some Doukhobor`s may differ with me, if their reasoning is sound — go with it.

      • Thank you for getting back to me…since husband died I’m on my own so will,give this a go as I so love to eat!!

  41. Omg, what was I thinking? I didn’t half the recipe. Looking at the ingredients it didn’t look like that much but boy oh boy I will be eating borscht til the cows come home. That’s alright though, it smells delicious. I just hope it freezes well. :)

  42. This is it! Just like grandma Polly (Woykin) of Grandforks made! (she never wrote it down). She was a true Russian Doukhobor. So happy to see this . Thank you thank you thank you.

  43. Great soup! We did modify a little bit, used sour cream instead of whipping, a butt load more dill and I made a chicken broth for a base in stead of water.

    Thank you for the great recipe! Yes I have been to the Borscht bowl, I highly recommend it! Also go to West end global market and deli for some of there jarred borscht while in Grand Forks!

    Thanks again

  44. I love the vegetarian borsht. Lived in Castlegar for a few years and also was in Grand Forks many times. It is vegetarian. My sister in law was Ukaranian and she used pork and it was a clear broth with lots of beets. Still prefer the Doukabor one. Making it tomorrow and freezing some for the winter. We grew all the ingredients and will be making the BIG batch. Hubby will be helping with the chopping and eating.

  45. I made this today – it was really good; my hubby and one year old son loved it. Nice fall comfort food. I too have lived in the Kootenays and have had the “real” thing in Castlegar and Grand Forks, and this follows very close. A couple suggestions: putting the yield would be helpful – this makes A LOT of soup!! I would have halved the recipe if I knew just how much it would make. It filled my 8 quart stock pot nearly to the top! The other thing that I would have liked to know is that when you add the cream and then the initial stew, the whole thing looks like it curdled. I had a moment of panic when I thought I had spent all that time and wasted all that food. But I stuck with it, and after boiling, it no longer looked like it had gone off. Thanks for the recipe – I will be making this again in a few years, once I’ve finished eating the leftovers from this batch!! :)

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