Great-Grandma Krietzky’s borscht

This family recipe for beet soup, passed down from generation to generation, is making its way from Ukraine to North Dakota to you.

Contributed by Linda Shiue, MD

Great-Grandma Krietzky’s borscht

I’d like to share a very special recipe a patient shared with me: his family’s cherished, handed-down recipe for borscht, or beet soup. Anyone who cooks knows that a family recipe is a gift more precious than gold. So, you can imagine how touched I was when my patient Lawrence brought me a beautifully presented Mason jar of his great-grandma’s borscht as a surprise, along with its story and recipe

Lillie Krietzky, Lawrence’s great-grandmother, brought the recipe when she migrated to North Dakota from Ukraine in 1900. The recipe was shared and enjoyed from generation to generation and finally written down more than 100 years later.

Lawrence shared it with me with the hope that we might be able to teach it in a future class in the Thrive Kitchen, and I hope we can! It’s an incredibly delicious and nutritious recipe — deep ruby red in color and earthy in flavor — and I would love to be able to share a family recipe from someone who is not only my patient but has attended a few of my classes. While the Thrive Kitchen’s main aim is to empower people with healthy cooking skills and to inspire delicious and more frequent home cooking, equally important is the sense of community we share at every single class. We might start out as strangers, but by the time we gather around the table after all the cooking is done to share food, nutrition information, advice, questions, and tips, everyone is relaxed and engaged. It’s my favorite day of every month.

Thank you, Lawrence, for your family’s delicious borscht recipe.

Note: This recipe can be halved.

Nutrition highlights: Beets are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium, copper, dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Servings: 32


  • 6 to 8 beets, medium size (with greens, optional)
  • 6 to 7 quarts water
  • 4 lemons
  • 6 teaspoons salt
  • 8 to 10 sprigs fresh dill (or more)
  • 3 to 4 heads garlic (or more)
  • 3 to 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Dry dill (optional)
  • Sour cream
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 large yellow or white onions, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes (white or red rose), diced
  • 8 cups tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and diced (10 to 12 tomatoes or 2 large cans diced tomatoes with juice)
  • 1 bunch celery with tops
  • 1 purple or green cabbage
  • 1 to 2 cups of your favorite vegetables (corn, green beans, peas, lima beans, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, or mushrooms; do not use parsnips or turnip-type vegetables)


Prepare beets

  1. Clean beets well and cut off greens, leaving 2 inches of stems (this keeps beets from losing their color while cooking). Keep beet greens for later use if in good condition.
  2. Add beets to 6 to 7 quarts of cold water, bring to boil, then simmer. Cook until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove beets. Save the red beet cooking water, strain, and use it for soup stock. Peel off the outer skin of beets by dipping in ice water (skin will slough off).
  4. Cool, then julienne, approximately 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch strips (use all bits and pieces).
  5. Add the juice of 2 to 3 lemons to the beets. Stir and coat to preserve color. Should yield roughly 6 cups of julienned beets.
  6. Bring 6 quarts of reserved beet stock to boil in a 16-quart (or larger) pot.
  7. Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart of beet stock.
  8. Keep at a simmer while adding vegetables.
  9. Chop vegetables and add as you go, in order of cooking length: carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, your favorite vegetables.
  10. Add seasonings to the soup: dill, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and parsley.
  11. Add beet greens (if using), prepared beets, and juice of 1 lemon. Bring to boil, then turn off the heat.
  12. After cooking, but while still hot, stir and taste for seasoning. Add salt, if needed. Add more lemon juice for tartness, if needed. Add dry dill, if more dill taste is desired.
  13. Serve hot or cold. Taste improves with age. Soup can be frozen.
  14. A great big dollop of sour cream will take your taste buds to Ukrainian heaven!

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Serving size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 60
  • Total fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 470 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 13 g
  • Dietary fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugars: 4 g
  • Protein: 2 g