Smoked Sturgeon Borscht

From Eric Giesbrecht

2015 Mar/Apr

Prairie meets pre-history in this somewhat twisted classic soup, as an age-old culinary tradition collides with an age-old dinosaur species of the Canadian river system. I figure that not even the proudest of all eastern Europeans would fight me on the finished product, though an eyebrow might be raised by mere mention that the soup was being played with. In the end, the subtle yet defining richness of the sturgeon fat comes through to flavour the stock base without revealing itself entirely. It blends so well you’d think that this was someone’s Russian grandmother’s recipe. Add sour cream if you must, but it would be a distraction.


  • 4 T. butter (or more)
  • 1/2 t. caraway seeds
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1 rib celery, small dice
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • splash of vermouth
  • 1/2 lb. hot-smoked sturgeon, small dice (or smoked black cod)
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 lbs. beets, peeled, small dice (two fist-sized beets will do)
  • 2 small red potatoes, small dice
  • 2 t. vinegar (apple cider for this guy)


Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and toast the caraway seeds in the butter once the sizzling subsides. Add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté until softened, then hit the veg with the vermouth and stir to lift any tasty bits. Stir in the sturgeon, then add the stock, bay leaf, beets and potatoes, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on how large your dice is, until the beets are tender. Add the vinegar to season and balance the salt from the smoked fish. Maybe bring the pepper mill to the table with this one. That’s it, that’s all.
Serves 4.