Spiced Up Borscht

While her husband, Gabe, heads up the kitchen at The Franklin in downtown Traverse City, Michelle stirs it up over at  The Cooks’ House and is slated to become chef of the family-friendly ELF café when it opens next fall. Michelle came north via the culinary scenes in Atlanta, Austin and Chicago. She’s been here long enough to know that in March we all need a bowl of warmth and color.—E.E.


  • 4 large beets, washed, peeled & cubed
  • 3 carrots, washed, peeled & cubed same size as beets
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large white or yellow onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 pound ground beef (whatever mix you prefer)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch cumin
  • Pinch cardamom
  • Garnish with sour cream & fresh dill


Toss the beets and carrots in vegetable oil with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until soft. In a Dutch oven, sauté the onions & garlic together until soft, add ground beef, and cook just until you don’t see pink anymore (remember it will continue to cook in the soup). In a strainer, drain the mixture of its fat in a strainer and set aside. Heat the pot again and sauté the cabbage and add the roasted beets & carrots, beef and onion and garlic mixture. Add the beef stock and mix in Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, cumin, cardamom and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer soup for 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream and fresh chopped dill.