TCC's Definitely Hong Kong Not Russian Style Borscht

Submitted by The Cynical Cook

Should you ever find yourself in a Chinatown wanting something of a surreal experience for lunch, I'd urge you to visit a Hong Kong style cafe (often found under such names as ABC Cafe or St. Anna's Cafe or some such)

There you'll find fascinating items like macaroni soup with peas, carrots, a fried egg, and spam or a soy sauce marinated steak with a mushroom gravy along side rice or a baked seafood casserole served atop spaghetti.

You'll also find a strange concoction in the soup section labeled Borscht. It's a fascinating example of fusion cuisine, a beefy broth of the same ilk as the Russian version but replacing the beets with tomatoes and excluding the cream.

This is my version, adapted from a similar soup that my mother made and a staple of mine during cold winter evenings. Serve over steamed white rice or along side a very crusty bread as a main dish.


  • 1 pound beef short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 3 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (Yukon golds are my favorites)
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 very large onion, chopped
  • 2 28 oz cans of peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • 1 long squirt Sriracha sauce


  1. Melt the butter at the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot at medium high heat. Be sure to do this relatively slowly as butter has a tendency to burn.
  2. Sear the short ribs on each side at the bottom of the pot, making sure to turn to each side to brown. Salt and pepper short ribs and remove from pot to separate plate.
  3. Stir fry celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, and bay leaves until onion becomes just translucent.
  4. Add the cans of tomatoes, short ribs and fill with water just to cover. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Season soup again with salt, pepper, and sugar. There is a little bit of an art to this part so season it according to your tastes. I tend to go with 1 table spoons of sugar and another 1 and 1/2 of salt to start (for about 3-5 quarts of liquid). Simmer for 25 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes. Finish with a long squirt of Sriracha sauce. Season again to refine and then serve.

Cook's Notes

I honestly have no clue about the proportions of seasoning here. Every time I have done it, it has been by taste and intuition more than recipe. The sugar should bring out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, the salt should enhance and deepen the vegetables and broth.


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