Borscht with horseradish cream

Borscht with horseradish cream

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

Many believe borscht is just beetroot (beet) soup, but it’s truly so much more. Some borscht recipes call for the meats to be picked from the bones after cooking and made into dumplings called piroshki, which are served with the soup in its broth form. This recipe serves both meats within the soup, making it very hearty. Traditionally you would use beef shin but I have used oxtail – it’s more readily available and has a slightly sweeter flavour. If you find the broth a little flat, a dollop of tomato paste and a splash of red-wine vinegar will lift the mix. If you want to maintain the sour cream tradition, use it instead of the mascarpone.


Quantity Ingredient
800g oxtail, cut into joints
1 duck, cut into 6 pieces
140g white cabbage, finely shredded
140g brown onions, finely chopped
140g carrots, finely chopped
140g leeks, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped
500g beetroot, washed and cut into large wedges
extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
3 litres veal stock
2 bay leaves
3 rashers bacon, cut into batons

Horseradish cream

Quantity Ingredient
125g fresh horseradish, peeled, washed and grated
2 teaspoons white wine
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g mascarpone


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Tumble the oxtail and duck pieces into a large roasting tin and brown them in the oven for 20 minutes.
  3. In a large, deep ovenproof saucepan (with a lid) over medium heat, sweat the shredded and chopped vegetables and one-third of the beetroot in a splash of olive oil until tender.
  4. Remove the oxtail and duck from the oven and add them to the pan, followed by the stock and bay leaves.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C.
  6. Cover the pan with a lid and transfer it to the oven to bake slowly for 3 hours until the oxtail is fully cooked and starting to fall off the bone.
  7. Meanwhile, put half the remaining beetroot in a saucepan over medium heat, with water to cover, and poach it for 30 minutes until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the beetroot to cool.
  8. Pass the oxtail broth through a sieve, reserving the meat. Chill the broth in the refrigerator in order to solidify the fat on the surface, so you can easily skim it off.
  9. Drain, peel and slice the poached beetroot. Pick the meat from the oxtail into nice chunks and slice the duck breast. Set the meats aside.
  10. In a small frying pan over high heat, lightly fry the bacon until crisp.
  11. Bring the broth back to the boil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed.
  12. Peel, chop and process the remaining beetroot in a blender with a little water to form a juice. Pass the juice through a sieve.
  13. For the horseradish cream, combine all the ingredients, except the mascarpone, in a bowl and allow the mixture to infuse for 30 minutes. Lightly fold through the mascarpone and give it a quick whisk to thicken. Refrigerate to set.
  14. Divide your garnishes – oxtail, duck, crisp bacon pieces and sliced beetroot – between bowls. Reheat the broth over medium heat. When it comes to the boil, remove it from the heat and add the beetroot juice. Pour this over the garnish in the bowls. Serve with a dollop of horseradish cream on the side.

Medicinal Benefit

  • This soup is nutrient-dense and very rich in protein, from the slow, deep cooking of the duck and oxtail. Beetroot contains an amino acid that can lower the homocysteine levels in the blood, reducing the chance of heart disease and stroke caused by arterial plaque build-up. High levels of folates help in the creation of new cells, and there is vitamin A too, which is essential for good vision and the maintenance of skin and body tissue. B complex vitamins help convert food into energy, and vitamin C boosts the immune system. Beetroot is also rich in potassium to balance body fluids, help maintain a steady heartbeat and regulate blood pressure. Horseradish root contains many volatile compounds that have antioxidant and detoxification functions. Phytochemical compounds in the root stimulate salivary, gastric and intestinal digestive enzymes. It’s also high in vitamin C, folates and B complex vitamins.
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