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Marjana Semkina cooks up a healthy soup for the readers

Marjana Semkina

“In Russian society, it’s expected a woman will be a great cook and enjoy her time in the kitchen. I prefer spending my time writing music or travelling, but I do enjoy cooking for special people. My granny used to cook borscht when I was very small. This is my quick and relaxed veggie version.”


2 medium beetroots, 3 medium potatoes, 1 large carrot, 250g white cabbage, 1 large onion, 1 medium tomato, 3 tbsp tomato paste, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 2-3 bay leaves, salt, black pepper, vegetable oil, parsley, dill, spring onion


“Finely chop the onion, grate the carrot and beetroots, chop the cabbage into fine strips, dice the tomato. In a pan, fry the onion and carrots for two minutes, add the beets for two minutes. Add tomato and cook for three-five minutes. Add the tomato paste (if thick, add a little water), and simmer for five-seven minutes.

Cube the potatoes and bring to the boil in a separate pan of salted water. Add the cabbage and cook on low heat for five minutes. Add the rest of the stewed veg and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add the bay leaves, pepper, salt and garlic. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse with a lid on for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and sprinkle with chopped dill, parsley, green onion. You can also add some chopped boiled egg.

Gleb [Kolyadin] loves good cooking more than anyone I know and every time
I cook for him it makes him very happy. Borscht is one of his favourite things. It’s a special process for me, too, because my family never had gatherings over dinner when people sat at the table discussing the events of the day, so to dine properly from time to time is very lovely. 

Russian cuisine, as with everything Russian, is a bit of a mystery. Last New Year, my UK friends asked me to celebrate the Russian way and I cooked them ‘herring in a fur coat’, a cake made out of boiled beets, carrot, potatoes, eggs, with a huge amount of mayo and pickled herring. To say they were bewildered would be an understatement!”