Red Vegetable Soup? -Russian Borscht Soup, Chinese Luo Song Tang (罗宋汤)



All Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese family will likely know a common household soup – “ABC soup” and the basic ingredients are potatoes, onions, carrots and pork rib though at times, other vegetables are added such as celery, sweet corns and capsicum etc.. Obviously , what I am sharing today may has some connection with this popular ABC soup though there is no direct conclusive evidence that it was linked.


The original soup should be a beet root soup which is very common in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Europe. The name is borscht and it was served in most Russian restaurant. Yes, this is a very common soup  and  whenever i dined at Russian restaurant be it in Khabarovsk in Eastern Russia or Irkutsk  and Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia, it was always one the soups served. Sad to say that I always did not order because it was prepared using beef broth. However, seeing my Chinese companion enjoying the soup, I knew that it is a delicious soup.


Initially, I planned to blog borscht recipe only but after due consideration, I do not think I have confidence to convince  my readers to try this bright red coloured vegetable soup and it reminds me of another soup that is very representative of Western soup served in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China western restaurants. This soup is called Lo Song Tang (罗宋汤)。 In these Asian countries, most of the older Western restaurants will serve this soup together with other popular soups such as mushroom soup and corn soup. There is no direct English translation for this soup and it is also called borscht.. I also did not have a chance to try because it was usually prepared using beef broth.


Both these soups were  actually linked and most Chinese literature will tell you that the originality of luo song tang is borscht and it was called as such because the name “Soviet Union” ..


Well the preparation are rather similar except that no beet roots was used in the soup in the Eastern version. Instead, tomato sauce or puree to colour the soup. That possibly is because beet root was not available in China then so tomato was used instead. In fact, I do not recall beet root being used for any Chinese traditional recipes..


Since I can’t take beef, I have prepared these soup using pork. If you want the original taste, of course beef is preferred. If you are curious about the taste of the soup, it a bit tangy and slightly like more watery pasta sauce. To me, it is definitely delicious and it is second time that I have prepared the soup within  a period of 1 month.


“Borscht is a soup of Ukrainian origin that is common in Eastern and Central Europe, especially in Ashkenazi Jewish,Belarusian, Lithuanian, Moldovan, Romanian, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian cuisine. In most of traditional recipes, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient. In some regions, tomato is used as the main ingredient, while beetroot may act as a secondary ingredient. Other varieties that do not use beetroot also exist, such as green borscht and white borscht. (Source:’




“罗宋”这一名称据说是来自Russian soup的中文音译(罗宋即Russian,源自早年上海的洋泾滨英语,发音:[lùsóŋ]),Russian Borscht(Borshch)是另一常用的名称。罗宋汤在中国东北的一些地区也被称为“苏波汤”。 在十月革命时候,有大批俄国人辗转流落到了上海,他们带来了伏特加,也带来了俄式的西菜,上海第一家西菜社就是俄国人开的。这道汤,就是从俄式红菜汤演变而来,俄式红菜汤辣中带酸,酸甚于甜,上海人并不习惯。后来受原料采办以及本地口味的影响,渐渐地形成了独具海派特色的酸中带甜、甜中飘香、肥而不腻、鲜滑爽口的罗宋汤。这海派罗宋汤并非只是吃西餐时食用,就是学校、单位、家庭以及中式菜馆,也是屡见不鲜。久而久之,这汤又在上海形成了各种流派和分支,其中最具代表性的有“饭店派”、“食堂派”和“家 庭派”等。其中“饭店派”以淮海西菜社为代表,在当年推出罗宋汤后,经过数次改良,更新工艺,终于成为海派罗宋汤的领路人,而后,各家西菜馆乃至个别中菜馆,都纷纷仿效。“食堂派”又称“弄堂派”,汤往往用大面盆或是保暖茶桶盛装,不用蕃茄酱或是只放极少用以着色,那汤常常是“清汤晃水”的,飘着几丝红肠而已,蕃茄多不剥皮,反正与那西菜馆里的罗宋汤是大相径庭,奇怪的是,即使这样的“蕃茄煮水”,吃着也很爽口,至今还有许多中学生不愿意吃学校的饭菜,跑到校门口买一两元钱一碗的这种汤,加片面包以做午饭。“家庭派”的人,既无缘学到西菜馆的烧法,也不想如“食堂派”那样堕落,于是只能自行琢磨,研究出各式烧法,其中主要以牛肉代替红肠,并且欠芡为主。(Source:



Servings: 5-6 adult servings


  • 500 grams of beef and other meats, cut into big chunks
  • 1 cup of potatoes , diced
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of capsicum, diced
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 cup of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small can of tomato puree
  • 1 small beetroot, shredded
  • 1/4 lemon, juice extracted
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour mix with 3 tablespoons of water (optional)
  • About 6-8 cups of beef broth or plain water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (as required)
  • Pinches of salt
  • Dashes of black pepper
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream



PicMonkey Collage1

  • If you are preparing borscht , you will need to start with the beet root preparation and followed by the other steps. If you are preparing the Asian version of borscht, you can by pass the beet root preparation.

  • Shred your beet root, squeeze 1/4 a lemon juice, mixed well . Transfer the beet root to a pot, add about 2 cups of beef broth or plain water and start boiling until the beet beef broth is soft.

  • In a frying pan, put the butter, sauté the onion until fragrant, add the meat cubes followed by diced tomatoes, capsicum, potatoes and carrots. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the flavour are incorporated.

  • Either transfer these meat to the pot of beet root soup or a new pot. Add the remaining beef broth or plain water.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Add the tomato puree, bring to boil and let it simmer until all the vegetables are soft. Add the shredded cabbage and let it continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Before off the heat, add the tomato sauce, vinegar (if desired for a more tangy taste), sugar to taste, black pepper and pinches of salt.  If prefer a thicker soup, you can add the plain flour roux. Stir until well mixed, bring to boil and off the heat.

  • For serving, topped generously with preferred herbs such as parsley or Chinese celery. Best served as a standard soup in a Western set meal. For borscht, place a scope of the sour cream on top of the soup.



Promoting a well known recipe but not popular here can be tougher that one can think. But I am very confident that you will like it, otherwise this soup will not be so popular for no reasons. What is shocking is most local Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese never heard of “luo song tang” but I have known this soup since i am very young because I am Chinese educated and it was always mentioned in Chinese literature and Hong Kong TV drama series. If you are running out of soup ideas, why not try this thick vegetable soup?


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


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