August 20, 2013

Zumma borscht recipe.

Alright, you might be thinking "What the heck language is she even speaking?" and most of you might not know this but I am a full blown Mennonite girl and I grew up in the country. Most of my grandparents' generation as well as my parents grew up speaking Low German (aka Plautdietsch) which unfortunately wasn't passed on to my siblings with the exception of a basic understanding of a few key words and phrases. Low German is probably one of the un-sexiest languages that exists, but I often catch myself using the odd word when nothing else will do! That said, Zumma borscht, also known as summa borscht or green borscht is a mennonite soup that is made to celebrate the start of the early Summer garden! With such things as fresh dill, baby potatoes and sorrel! Wait, what the heck is sorrel you ask? Well, as a 6 year old I grew up sitting at the end of my Kroeker grandparent's deck eating this leafy green thinking that I was so cool for eating what I thought was just a weed. Ha! It turns out I wasn't as cool as I thought, and it's actually a green used in lots of soups - like this one, and has a very bitter/sour taste to it.  Unfortunately if you don't have a garden full of the stuff, it can be tricky to get your hands on, but good news - you can use the greens of beet tops as a replacement! This soup is also often used with a ham bone to make the stock, but I much prefer the farmer sausage. Ps - there's absolutely nothing better than mennonite farmer sausage! 
All you need:
10 cups water
1 ring (2 sticks) of farmer sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 cups chopped fresh sorrel (or beet tops)

1/2 cup fresh dill

1 bag of red baby potatoes (peel kept on)

1 bay leaf
salt & pepper
sour cream/heavy cream (optional)
white vinegar (optional)

All you do:

-Add the farmer sausage to the water in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 1 hour: this makes your soup stock. 
-Next, remove the sausage and let cool and then chop it into bite-sized pieces.
-Now add the baby potatoes (chopped into bite size pieces) green onions, dill, sorrel, bay leaf and pepper. Cook until the potatoes are done.
-Now add the farmer sausage back to the pot.
-Finally add sour cream or heavy cream once soup cools a bit, or vinegar.

There are a few different ways that you can eat this soup. I grew up eating zumma borscht either plain or with a dash of white vinegar to give it a little zip. If you want it a little creamier you can add a bit of heavy cream and/or a dollop of sour cream on top. Make sure you don't add vinegar and cream/sour cream because it will curdle. 
Oh man I wish you could smell my kitchen right now! It brings me right back to my grandma's kitchen when I was a little girl.
I hope you like this menno soup!

XO, Erin


  1. Good post from another "Menno" girl.

  2. Oh this is my favourite kind of borsht! I think I'll introduce this menno tradition to my Finnish husband- he's in love with farmer sausage!

  3. THis is my absolute favorite!! I use ham broth, and buttermilk with the potatoes and dill. Keeps it tangy.


  4. I have that same dish pattern! It's so lovely! :) That soup looks delish, can't wait to try it out!

  5. favourite of the borscht's ;)
    Good for you for making your own...Zumma Borscht totally intimidates me, so I just wait for my Mom to whip up a batch and send me home with some. And yes, you really do need the Farmer's Sausage.

  6. Hi, the second I read the title of your post I thought "Aha, Sommerborschtsch". That is the way I, as a German, would write it. And I love sorrel, maybe you even know the German name "Sauerampfer"? Fortunately I think my parents have it in their garden somewhere.
    Viele Grüße aus Deutschland
    Anja :o)

  7. That´s interesting. I come from Lower Saxony, a part of Germany where the older generations once spoke low german.My grandmother knows ;) But as far as I know Borscht is a typical Polish or Russian recipe. My husbands mother cooks it once and again^^

  8. Mmmm... I'm trying to branch out and be more experimental with my cooking. I'll definitely bookmark this one! Would be an awesome warm/comforting meal for fall!

  9. I just made regular Borscht tonight! As soon as I read your post I went and planted sorrel seeds in the garden (now's the time and I think they come up in the spring). This summer I started making one Menno dish a week for my kids because I want to pass on the culture. I'm excited you're a Mennonite too - post more recipes!!

  10. My mom and my grandmother made Zumma Borscht with either a pork bone (or bacon if times were tough) and beet tops. Served with a splash of milk and home baked bread--childhood revisited! ;)

  11. I picked my sorrel last night, and have the fresh dill and onion greens. Our younger son admitted, "I don't really like this soup, but Granny's is the best!" Mom's soup was always made with buttermilk. I suspect that is closer to the original, as buttermilk was a staple in Mennonite kitchens. It gives the rich texture and enhances the slightly tart taste of the sorrel. I don't think sorrel is supposed to be bitter. Rather, it is tangy. Not all sorrel tastes the same. The taste probably depends on the soil in which it grows.