Cooking with Alison

Chinese Borscht Recipe (Lor Sung Tong)

In Asian, Soups, Soups and Salads on June 2, 2011 at am

Originating from Ukraine, borscht is a soup that is made with beets as the main ingredient.  Surprisingly, you may find borscht or even Russian borscht (“loh sung tong” / “lor sung tong”) on the menus of some Hong Kong style diners.  The borscht served in these Chinese restaurants is more like a hot and sour vegetable soup with tomatoes and/or tomato paste as the main ingredient(s).  It’s delicious and my siblings and I love it.  In fact, every time my brother sees me, he asks me when I’m going to make more of this soup for him.  I made it for my housemate recently and she asked for the recipe.  Every Chinese restaurant makes their borscht slightly differently, so feel free to add whatever vegetables you like.  The following recipe was created to taste just like the soup that’s served at our favourite Hong Kong style diner in Markham, ON.

Chinese Borscht Recipe

4 cups of beef, chicken, or vegetable broth plus 2 cups of water (or more if you want the soup to have a higher ratio of liquid to veggies)

1 1/2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, pureed in a food processor or blender

3 cups thinly sliced cabbage (stem and core removed, remaining cabbage cut into wedges and then sliced)

2 1/2 cups diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 large onion, finely diced

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

3 tbsp white vinegar

2 tbsp tomato paste

Chinese chili paste, chili oil, hot sauce or dried red chili flakes to taste (I used approx. 1 tsp chili paste)

pinch of ground white and/or black pepper

vegetable oil

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat.  Then lightly coat the bottom with vegetable oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add the cabbage and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage softens slightly, 1 or 2 minutes.  Then add the carrots and celery and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the broth, water, tomatoes and tomato paste and raise the heat to high.  Once the soup comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, covered, until the carrots have reached the desired softness, between 25 and 40 minutes (depending on the size of your carrots).  Stir occasionally.  Then stir in the vinegar, ground pepper, and chili paste to taste.  Allow the soup to simmer for 2 more minutes and remove from heat.  Serve hot with ground white pepper so that your guests may add an extra dash or two to their bowls of soup if desired.  This soup freezes well.

  1. I love this soup too! I always get so confused when those “Carnation-style” restaurants serve something else as a starter (what? cream of corn?!).

  2. I tried this one last week. My sister and niece both loved it. We had left over for 2 more meals. Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. i made this too, added some beef chunks – so unfortunately made the soup oily. other than my addition, the soup was yum 😀

    • Adding beef is a great idea! All you have to do is skim the fat off the top. Or, even better, refrigerate the soup so that the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Then remove all of it before reheating.

  4. Hi,

    what consitute as chinese chilie sauce?

    unforunately i used heinz chili sauce and it adds onto the already heavy tomato-taste. is there supposed to be tomato paste in chili sauce? I saw it does in the heniz chilie sauce

    • Hi Samantha! Thanks so much for your question! No, Chinese chili sauce does Not contain tomatoes. Any non-tomato based hot sauce could be used instead. Or you could use red chili flakes or cayenne pepper, or chili powder instead.

  5. May I ask, how many people does this recipe serve?

  6. […] I’ve found several recipes online, so the basic process seems straightforward (e.g. this, this, and this). Now, one of the things I’ve rather liked about the Hong Kong version of borscht […]

  7. FYI, it’s “luo” not “lor”

  8. Hi Allison,
    Great recipe, can’t wait to try it. May I ask what diner in Markham you’re referring to? I live in the area and I actually was looking for a recipe that could match the soup I get at a diner in Markham too!

    • Hi Nina,
      This recipe is my favourite version of the soup. So it isn’t the same as a particular diner. I hope that it’s a good starting point for you to create your own favourite version! If it helps, I made mine less salty, less spicy, and less tomato-y, more acidic, than some of the diners. Hope that helps!

  9. […] ended, you can still find Borscht (called “loh sung tong” / “lor sung tong”) in Hong Kong. Cooking with Alison and Mrs. P’s Kitchen (seen below) have two classic Hong Kong Borscht […]

  10. Is the diner you are referring to Hollywood Cafe by any chance?
    Also, specifically which flavor broth that you mentioned (beef, chicken, vegetable) should I use if I want to get it to taste the most like the diner’s?

    • Hi Liv, I’m sorry I took so long to reply! I wasn’t referring to any one diner, specifically. They’re all similar. In terms of the broth, I prefer using beef broth. And I would suggest you use your favourite beef broth brand. I get mine (low sodium and organic) from Costco.

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