A Deliciously Tasty Hong Kong Borscht Soup Recipe

No other soup in the world has such a complex and delicious balance of flavors as Hong Kong borscht soup. It’s meaty, tangy, sweet, and can even have a bit of heat when you’re in the mood for something spicy. So get ready to learn about this borscht soup and how you can make your own tasty and satisfying Hong Kong borscht soup at home!

Doesn’t Borscht Come From Somewhere in Europe?

The soup most people connect with “borscht” has come from the Slavic countries in Eastern Europe. According to Britannica.com, the original borscht soup was common in Russian and Polish households. The traditional soup is basically a beet soup that can be adapted per region, available ingredients, and the chef’s tastes.

Borscht soup made its way to Asia around the time the Russian Revolution was happening in the early 1900s. The soup extended its reach to Hong Kong as Japan invaded China, and its recipe evolved to become its own traditional favorite in the city.

With so many different cuisines being mixed and matched with others to create culinary “fusions,” it’s no surprise that this soup has been part of that transformation. While borscht soup didn’t originate in Hong Kong, it’s become its own native favorite nonetheless.

The Difference Between Traditional and Hong Kong Borscht Soup

At first glance, Hong Kong borscht soup looks nothing like the traditional Eastern European recipe, but they’re more similar than you might think. The difference comes down to a change in a primary ingredient.

The traditional recipe calls for beets, while the Hong Kong version switches beets out for tomatoes. You also won’t need to add sour cream to the Hong Kong borscht soup. Its profile brings out a more sweet and sour experience that doesn’t require a creamy dairy addition.

Here’s a Hong Kong Borscht Soup Recipe for You to Make at Home

When you want a hearty, healthy, and complex soup that’s easy to make, Hong Kong borscht soup is a perfect choice for you. It’s got meat, veggies, and a smooth, tangy broth to make every bite delectable. Here’s how you make your own Hong Kong Borscht soup at home.


  • 1 ½ lbs of oxtail or any beef you prefer
  • 3 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into cubes (russet potatoes are best, but any potato will do)
  • 4 large stalks of celery, sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes (2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes work as well)
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole
  • 8 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 chili pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups of tomato paste (may add more or less to taste)
  • 10 cups of beef or vegetable broth (may use water instead if desired)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar or to taste
  • 4 tbsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste


  1. Wash and blanch the oxtail or beef and set aside. (See below for instructions and more information about blanching.)
  2. Clean your carrots, onion, cabbage, potatoes, and celery before cutting them up. You can cut your veggies larger or smaller than recommended based on preferences (one-inch pieces work beautifully in this soup).
  3. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them and remove the seeds. (Cutting an “X” on the bottom of a tomato before submerging it in boiled water for a few seconds makes peeling easy! Make sure they are cooled before handling them.)
  4. In a large pot, lay the cabbage on the bottom, then your oxtail or other meat. Next, layer the tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, potatoes, bay leaves, oregano, chili pepper, and tomato paste in the pot.
  5. Add your broth or water to the pot and then bring it to a boil over high heat.
  6. Once your soup is boiling, lower the heat so that the water is just simmering. Simmer the soup for three to four hours, stirring frequently to avoid burning at the bottom.
  7. You may add additional broth or water as needed during the simmering process. Add enough to keep your ingredients covered at all times while cooking.
  8. Once your soup has simmered for a few hours, add your vinegar, sugar, and salt if using. Adjust to taste.
  9. If you’re unsure your soup is ready, your meat should be tender enough to fall off the bone or come apart easily.
  10. When done, remove the soup from the heat and spoon into bowls to serve!

This soup may seem complicated, but it’s really straightforward and simple. Don’t add any ingredients you don’t like, and substitute or supplement any that you think would be beautiful in this recipe!

A Note About Your Vegetables

The size, amount, and type of veggies can all be modified to make your soup taste how you’d like. For example, if you enjoy a firmer potato or crunchy vegetables, add them later in the cooking process. While making the original recipe the first time is best, you can always alter and improve it for yourself or your family!

Blanching Your Meat

Blanching is a simple process of cooking your meat in water before you cook it again or season it for later on in your recipe. When blanching meat, it helps to improve the smell and taste of any blood and impurities from the cut you’re using. It also helps to lessen any cloudiness you may see in your broth from meat that hasn’t been blanched.

If you’re unsure how to blanch the meat for your Hong Kong borscht soup, simply cover your cut of meat with cold water in a large pot. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, remove anything that sits on the water’s surface with a spoon and discard.

The amount of time you blanch the meat will depend on how large the cut is and how well done you want it to be before you add it to the soup. The beef in this recipe can be boiled for 30 minutes for a well-done cut. Keep an eye on the meat and remove it when it reaches your desired doneness.

Additions to Make Your Own Version of Hong Kong Borscht Soup

Soups are versatile and easy to adapt to meet any dietary need or taste preference. Here are some suggestions to get creative and excited about putting together your own soup!

  • Fresh ginger
  • Red, green, orange, or yellow peppers
  • Replace tomato paste with ketchup
  • Add lemon juice
  • Put in a few white or black peppercorns while boiling the soup
  • Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce (or more)
  • Use your favorite seasonings like paprika, basil, sage, etc.
  • If you’re a meat lover, use both oxtail and beef
  • Serve over rice or pasta for a heartier dish
  • To add some extra heat, try hot sauce

Use your imagination and personal tastes to have some fun with this soup. When you use your favorite ingredients or try something new, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable dining experience!

Don’t Wait to Make Your Own Hong Kong Borscht Soup Recipe

Now that you have everything you need to make this incredible soup in your own home, you’ll want to make it as soon as possible. With tender meat, tons of nutritious vegetables, and tasty, satisfying broth, it appeals to almost every taste palette.

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