Make Borscht Not War Recipes and a Fundraising Update

a pot of borscht with kale about to be stirred in
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Over 30 people attended my Make Borscht Not War fundraiser on Tuesday night. We cooked dinner together, had fun and raised money to help brutalized Ukrainians facing a humanitarian crisis in their country, with each new day grimmer than the previous one.

Today’s headlines alone include Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital, its admission to using thermobaric rockets in Ukraine and its shelling of agreed-upon humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians attempting to flee the carnage.

So last night, we cooked for Ukraine.

$2,753.44 raised through cooking borscht together!

I provided people with two options to register. They could donate to a charity that helps Ukraine (I posted a list here) and send me a screenshot to secure a spot. Most people chose that option, for a total of $1,499.67. Others signed up for the workshop through my Eventbrite page and that $898 went to World Central Kitchen, which is feeding fleeing Ukrainians on the border of Ukraine and Poland (see the screenshot below). Others donated to World Central Kitchen through Instagram or Facebook but didn’t attend the class (another $355.77).

Oh, and two people emailed their proofs of donation but not the amounts, so the total is actually higher.

Thank you to everyone who donated and shared the event!

Zoom recording of the borscht fundraiser

I promised attendees I would post the borscht class recording somewhere. Here it is.

The borscht fundraiser was on CBC’s The National!

We were on CBC’s flagship news show, The National

And now, the workshop recipes!

Root-to-Leaf, Waste-Free Red Borscht

Borscht originated in present-day Ukraine and is enjoyed throughout Eastern Europe. We cooked the red version—with beets—and used all the parts of this winter vegetable to reduce planet-heating food waste. The beetroot, leaves and stems went into the soup and the peels and scraps into a small amount of fermented beet kvass. (This differs from traditional kvass, made with stale rye or black bread.)

a pot of borscht with kale about to be stirred in
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Root-to-Leaf, Waste-Free Red Borscht

Use all the parts of the beets to make red borscht, a traditional hearty vegetable soup which originated in present-day Ukraine and is enjoyed throughout Eastern Europe.
Servings: 6


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 cup chopped beet stems, stripped of leaves if your beets do not have greens, substitute 2 ribs of celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6 medium Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces see Note
  • 5 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces see Note
  • 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces reserve the peels and scraps to start beet kvass, if desired
  • cups chopped cabbage or kale add 3 cups if you don't have beet greens below
  • 6 to 8 cups water or vegetable broth
  • cups chopped beet greens, stems removed see Note
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • fresh dill, for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish (optional)


  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and beet stems or celery and sauté until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic, caraway seeds, thyme, salt and pepper and stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the potatoes, carrots, beets and, if using, cabbage. Pour in enough water or broth to just cover the vegetables, between 6 and 8 cups. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer partially covered until the potatoes, carrots and beets are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in beet greens or kale and lemon juice or vinegar to taste. Cook for another minute.
  • Ladle the borscht into bowls and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of fresh chopped dill and, if desired, sour cream.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a week. Borscht also freezes well. Go here for information on freezing food in jars.


I don’t peel potatoes or carrots. I do buy organic, however, and so the peels I eat contain fewer pesticide residues.
If you have lots of beet greens, use 3 cups total and skip the cabbage and kale altogether.

And now for your next recipes

You probably have leftover tomato paste. Use it to make Simple Restaurant-Style Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo). One of the workshop attendees asked for ideas to use caraway seeds. Put them in this No-Waste Irish-ish Soda Bread or in a batch of sauerkraut.

Scrappy beet kvass

This sour tonic is full of good bacteria, which benefit your gut health. Go here for the full beet kvass recipe. Below is a scrappy version.

a jar filled with scraps of beets, salt and water to make beet kvass
Beet kvass, ready to strain and drink
a jar filled with scraps of beets, salt and water to make beet kvass
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Scrappy Beet Kvass

Servings: 4


  • scraps and peels of 6 medium beets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water


  • Place the scraps and peels of 6 medium beets in a clean large jar or divide them between two smaller jars. (You don't need to sterilize the jars.)
  • In a measuring cup, combine the ½ teaspoon of salt with the 2 cups of water and stir to dissolve.
  • Pour the brine into the jar of beet scraps, leaving three inches of headspace. If you have it, place a piece of cabbage over the scraps and push it down into the jar to submerge the beet scraps. If you have a small jar, place that on the cabbage leaf. Close the jar. If you don't have cabbage or a small jar, simply close the jar and stir the contents daily to help prevent kahm yeast from forming (see Note).
  • Close the jar and place on a plate to catch any gurgles during fermentation and allow to sit at room temperature to ferment for a few days.
  • Burp the jar (i.e., open it) daily to release carbon dioxide.
  • Taste the beet kvass on day three. It should taste tangy and slightly effervescent. If not, let it sit for two or three more days, until it has achieved the flavor you like. Strain out the beets, compost the scraps and store the kvass in a bottle.
  • To increase carbonation, leave the bottle at room temperature for two days before moving to the refrigerator, where the kvass will keep indefinitely.


Kahm yeast is a white powdery-looking substance that sometimes forms on top of fermented fruit and vegetables. It is not harmful but it is annoying. If you see it, immediately scoop off as much as possible with a clean spoon.
Left to its own devices, kahm yeast can turn into dreaded mold, which you would recognize: raised, furry dots of white, black, green or pink. According to fermentation guru Sandor Katz, in The Art of Fermentation, white mold can be scraped off. Compost food with mold of any other color. Use your best judgment.

3 Replies to “Make Borscht Not War Recipes and a Fundraising Update”

    1. Thank you for donating, Dorothy!

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