How to Make Russian Sorrel Borscht Without Beets

Sorrel Soup
Sorrel Soup Simon Pask / Getty Images
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
156 Calories
7g Fat
14g Carbs
12g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 156
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 151mg 50%
Sodium 1008mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Protein 12g
Calcium 140mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for sorrel soup is known as shchavelya sup in Russian and shchavlyu sup in Ukrainian; however, it is usually referred to simply as schav.

Sorrel is domesticated and grown wild throughout Eastern Europe and spring is the best time to pick the young, tender leaves. Sorrel finds its way into soups, sauces (especially with salmon), stuffing, and, when young and tender, it is eaten raw in salads like baby spinach.

This recipe is a Jewish version, often called schav borscht (even though it is not made with beets as the name might suggest), which can be eaten hot or cold, and is a good candidate for Passover if parve margarine or oil and vegetable stock are used when serving with sour cream.


  • 1 pound young sorrel leaves, washed, stemmed as for spinach and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine or oil
  • 1 large minced onion
  • 6 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 large beaten egg yolks
  • Sour cream to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine or heat the oil. Sauté 1 pound young washed and stemmed sorrel leaves and 1 large minced onion for about 10 minutes or until sorrel is wilted and onions are translucent.

  2. Add 6 cups water or chicken stock and 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and juice of 1 lemon a little at a time, tasting after each addition of lemon juice, until your desired tartness is achieved.

  4. Temper 2 large beaten egg yolks with a few tablespoons of hot soup, then stir tempered egg yolks back into the soup.

  5. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until slightly thickened and simmering but do not boil as the eggs will curdle. Serve hot or cold with sour cream.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.

The Importance of Soup in Eastern European Cuisine

Much of Eastern Europe experiences bitterly cold winters and hot soup plays a prominent role in keeping bodies warm and as satisfying sustenance when meat and fresh produce are unavailable. But soup has become so firmly entrenched in the cuisine, cold versions made with fruits or vegetables that slake the thirst are served in summer.

Russian soups and Polish soups are legendary and filling enough to be served on their own as a main meal with hearty bread on the side. But when times are not so lean, they are an introductory course served after the appetizer spread and before the feast of roasted meats, sausages, grains, and vegetables begins.