Deconstructed "Borscht"

Deconstructed "Borscht"

Well this isn't a traditional borscht recipe but it does have a lot of the components of the traditional recipe. Borscht is an eastern Europe soup that can be served hot or cold.  The cold version usually has some sort of yogurt or fermented dairy in it.  The hot version usually has a broth and beets are one of the main ingredients of both versions.  Some of the other ingredients could include onion, carrot, potatoes, cabbage, parsley root, parsnips, radish, cucumber, dill and parsley. 

In this recipe I wanted to use most of these ingredients for a traditional borscht but either change the flavor or texture of the ingredients or in some case both. I wanted more of an appetizer than a true soup as well.  So this is definitively a modern take on the classic recipe. For the beets I created a really deep flavor by roasting them in a salt crust.  For the cabbage I pickled it and then made a "pudding" with it.  For the parsnips I made a deep and rich foam. 

For the potatoes I used fingerlings that I first smoked, then roasted them.  For the carrots I charred them to give it another depth of flavor.  I left the radishes raw and combined all of it with a dill yogurt sauce and finish it with olive oil.  This turned out to be a real winner with the dinners especially one of them who was Noel Lee, founder of Monster cable products.  It was a great start to the dinner because it was light and refreshing but still had a lot of flavor without being overwhelming at the beginning of the dinner.  The rest of the dinner was a huge success because I had at least 5 different times that others commented on how awesome the dinner was. 

Pickled Cabbage

1/2 red cabbage sliced thin

1 cup of raspberry or red wine vinegar

1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup of sugar

2 tbsp of salt

1 jalapeno cut in half

3 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf


Red Cabbage Gel

1 1/4 cup of vinegar

1 cup of pickled cabbage

2 tsp of agar


Parsnip Foam

300 g of parsnips peeled and sliced

100 g of  water (cooking water)

125 g of cream

35 g of olive oil

salt to taste

2 isi charges



3 each large red and large yellow beets

3 lb of kosher salt

3 egg whites

1 sprig of rosemary and lavender

splash of water


4 Red radishes

1 shaved and the others quartered


Fingerling Potatoes

2 lbs of fingerling potatoes

1 lb of carrots peeled and blanched

Dill yogurt

1 1/2 cups fage yogurt

1 large bunch of dill

1 lemon

salt to taste


Olive oil

Rosemary flowers

Dill sprigs


Preheat oven to 400 degrees,

For the beets,

Place salt and egg whites in a bowl.  Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes like wet sand.  You can add a little splash of water if it is too dry.  Then in a roast pan add a thin layer of salt on the bottom.  Then place the beets on top of the thin layer of salt.  Place the rest of the salt all on top and around the beets making sure they are completely covered with salt.  Then place in the oven for about an hour and half.  The salt should have formed a brown hard crust.  Let it cool for 20 minutes and then take a meat mallet and break the shell of the salt crust.  Take the beets out of the salt and brush off the excess salt.  Peel the skin off and set aside for later.  The salt crust gives a deep and richer flavor of beets that can't be achieved without the salt crust.  

For the potatoes,

In a stove top smoker add apple, pecan, and mesquite wood shavings.  Place the fingerling potatoes inside and smoke for 5 minutes on high.  Then turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to sit in the smoker another 25 minutes.  Then take the potatoes out and place in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place them on a sheet tray in the oven.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Take out and set aside.

For the Pickled cabbage,

Place all the ingredients except for the cabbage into a pot and bring to a boil.  Place the red cabbage in a bowl or canning jar.  Pour the hot boiling pickle juice over the cabbage and immediately cover it.  This can be done easily a day in advanced.  If doing the same day allow at least 2 to 3 hours.  Then take a cup of the cabbage and 1 1/4 cup of pickling juice and place into a blender.  Puree until smooth.  You can either strain it through a fine mesh sieve or just pour the contents into a pot.  Add agar to the pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Then pour into a shallow baking pan and place into the refrigerator until it has cooled and hardened.  Then cut the gel into squares and place into the blender to puree until smooth.  Adjust seasoning if need be and place into a squirt bottle in the refrigerator until later. 

For the dill yogurt,

Place half of the yogurt, dill, and lemon juice into a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Then strain the yogurt sauce into the remaining half of the yogurt.  Mix well with a whisk, adjust the seasoning with salt and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Parsnip foam,

This recipe was adapted from El Bulli. Place peeled and sliced parsnips into a pot with just enough water to cover the parsnips.  Bring to boil and then turn down to a simmer until the parsnips are cooked through. Strain off all the water except 100 g.  Place the 100 g of water in a blender with the cooked parsnips, cream, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Puree until extremely smooth.  Then pour into a isi container and charge with 2 cartridges.  Keep warm in a pot of water until ready to use. 

For the carrots,

Peel the carrots and blanch them in salted water.  Toss the carrots in olive oil and salt, then place them on a grill and char the outside of the carrot ( about 6-8 minutes ).  Set aside until ready to serve

To Plate,

Slice yellow beets into quarters and toss them with a little olive oil and pinch of salt.  Take the red beets and slice them on a mandolin tossing them in olive oil and pinch of salt as well.  Place a few spoonfuls of the dill yogurt on the plate.  Then Add your beets to the plate.  Then make two mounds of the parsnip foam in the middle of the plate.  Cut the carrot in half if it is big and place in the middle.  Then slice the fingerling potatoes and toss in olive oil and place on the plate.  Slice and quarter the radishes and place on the plate.  Add the pickled cabbage gel to the plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with dill and rosemary flowers.  Serve and enjoy!

Back to blog

Leave a comment