Sour Beet Clear Soup

Recently when I saw the news of a drive to get Unesco recognition of borscht, I was reminded on my trips to Wrocław and Warszawa. I was particularly smitten by their sour soups.

Here is my version of the Polish barszcz. Although many suggest to simply use lemon juice or vinegar for the sourness, I just simply could not not sour the beets (kwas). I found the beet fermentation is not as daunting as one might think. Moreover, kwas is a refreshing drink as well, with all the goodness of fermentation.

The clear ruby soup is not just an eye candy but also a delectable delight. Enjoy!


Fermentation Crock, pressure cooker.


Makes 4

  • Kwas: 2 lbs beet, peeled and sliced + 2 slices of rye bread
  • Soup:
    • Beet stock : 2 large beets + vegetables (1 medium celeriac root+ 1 large carrot + 1 large onion), peeled and sliced
    • 1 oz dehydrated mushroom (lion’s mane) soaked in a cup of water for few hours
    • Seasoning: 2 crushed garlic + 1 tbsp butter + salt & sugar to taste


Kwas: Place the beet in the crock. Boil plenty of water and let cool till lukewarm. Then add to the beets, so that it is 1 inch above the beets. Add the bread slice. Cover with cheese cloth and a lid and let ferment for at least three days. Then remove the bread with a spatula. Using a strainer lined with cheese cloth, strain the liquid and store in mason jars.

Beet stock: Pressure cook all the vegetables in 8 cups of water (or about 1/2 inch above the level of vegetables) till tender. Strain to extract the clear stock.

Soup: Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins: 7 cups of stock + 3 cups kwas + 1/2 cup hydrating mushroom liquid + 2 cloves of garlic. Mix in 1 tbsp butter and turn off heat. Serve with sauteed mushrooms.


  1. I adapted from Fresh from Poland (by Michal Korkosz) and this online source.
  2. Kwas turned out to be a delicious drink, with a touch of sourness (think of it as a vegan chaas). If you don’t have a Fermentation Crock, you can use just a mason jar or a ceramic pot.
  3. You can use lemon juice (or vinegar) to taste, if you don’t want to go through the kwas fermenting process.
  4. You can also use parsnip, celery, leek etc. For the beet stock, as a rule of thumb use 2 lbs beet to 1 lb veggies.
  5. Instead of mushroom dumplings, I use simply sautéed mushrooms.
  6. The pressure cooker really softens the veggies, so the leftover pulp can be mashed with a masher. Mix with some chickpea flour (besan) to soak in the moisture + salt + spices (chilli powder, garlic powder and cumin) and press into a thin layer on a parchment lined tray. Score and bake for 25-30 mins. See picture below. Peel off the parchment and enjoy!



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