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Fermented Beetroot Borscht

Fermented Beetroot Borscht

Serves pea 4 Clock icon 3.5 hours
Despite having a reputation as a meat-loving nation, the most important Christmas meal in Poland – which takes place on Christmas Eve – is actually meat-free. Try adding this twist on beetroot Borscht to your festive repertoire.

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Here's how you do it

  1. Cover the dried mushrooms in boiling water in a bowl for about 10 minutes then drain and wash in cold water. Place them back into the bowl and cover again with boiling water – this time let them stand for about an hour. Transfer to a pan with 1 litre of water and cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  2. Cook all the vegetables for 1 hour in 2 litres of water along with the bay leaves, peppercorns, seaweed (if using) and allspice berries.
  3. Strain both broths through a sieve and into a fresh pan. Add the fermented beetroot juice, lemon juice, sugar and season.
  4. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more. Taste and season again to your own taste.
  5. You can serve this with a dollop of soured cream or crème fraiche on top if you so choose.

This recipe is by Zuza Zak, author of 'Polska: New Polish Cooking'. View Zuza's recipe for homemade fermented beetroot.


  • 10-15 dried mushrooms
  • 3 litres water
  • 4-5 beetroot, peeled
  • 1 carrot, washed
  • 1 parsnip, washed
  • ½ celeriac, peeled
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves
  • 1-2 bay leaves (larder)
  • 5-6 allspicce berries (larder)
  • 5-6 peppercorns (larder)
  • 200ml fermented beetroot juice (see recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (2-3 if no fermented beetroot juice)
  • 2 pieces dulse seaweed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram (larder)
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar (larder)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste (larder)
  • Soured cream or crème fraiche to serve (optional)

Suitable for

  • Vegetarians