Cantonese (Hong Kong) Style Borscht 羅宋湯

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

I grew up in Chongqing, China where the temperature reaches over 100 F in the summer time and stays comfortably above 50s during winter time.

So one of my biggest challenges after moving to New York was to cope with the cold winter here.

And I have been doing pretty well on that. After all I have survived a number of freezing winters in NYC.  And I honestly didn’t believe it could get any worse than the past few winters until last week when the deadly polar vortex hit my part of the States!!

Last week was the coldest few days I had ever experienced in my life! I mean it was so cold that my 10 minute walk from the subway station to work almost turned into a life-threatening venture.

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

But it wasn’t all that negative. For one, the cold weather smashed the 118 year record in Central Park New York.

And when the temperate drops outside, my kitchen tends to heat up. While the polar vortex was visiting, I was cooking up some of my favorite winter soups including borscht.

And this borscht is not the typical beets-laden borscht you are used to. This Cantonese style borscht, aka Lor Song Tong or 羅宋湯, is a Chinese take on the classic borscht. It’s popular in China and it is regarded as a stable in Cantonese speaking Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Canton.

In contrast to the Ukrainian borscht or other European style borscht, this Cantonese style borscht features beef or oxtail and does not have any beets nor it is served with sour cream. The only thing this soup resembles the original borscht is how delicious it is. :)

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯

When I crave for a simple but comforting Chinese soup, this borscht is always on the top of my list. Since most of the soup are just vegetables you’ll not feel guilty to drink that extra bowl. And most importantly, this tomato-based soup is so flavorful that it will not only satisfy your stomach but also warm up your heart in this cold winter.

So if you still have no idea what this soup is all about, let’s just call it hearty beef with tomato and mixed vegetable soup. If that sounds good to you then be sure to check out the recipe below.

P.S. before I forget, I just would like to mention that the Chinese New Year 2014 will be on January 31st. It will be the year of horse!

Every year, I post special Chinese New Year recipes right around this time but for this year I am doing something EXTRA SPECIAL. Please check back in the new few days for the details!!


Step by Step Illustration

Cantonese (Hong Kong) Style Borscht 羅宋湯

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 15

Cook Time: 105

Total Time: 120

Make this Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht following this step-by-step recipe at


  • 1.5 lb beef (or oxtail)
  • 3 quart beef broth or vegetable broth
  • 4 fresh tomato
  • 2-3 potatoes
  • 3 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 all spice (optional


  1. Blanch the beef in boiling water to get rid of the blood. Remove from the boiling once the beef shrinks and turns color
  2. Cut the beef into 1x1 cubes. No need to cut if you use oxtails. Combine the beef cubes, bay leaves, and all spice with 3 quarts of beef broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes
  3. Chop all the vegetables into smaller pieces. Add all the vegetables to the soup and bring to boil
  4. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Remove as much of the floating foam as possible and stir the vegetables occasional. The vegetables should be tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste

How to make Cantonese (Hong Kong) style Borscht 羅宋湯


  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe.   Don’t really understand why you call this a borscht.  Borscht is a soup from Central and Easter Europe.  Rather, you should call this “Cantonese style soup”.  No need to compare it to a European dish. 

    • Hi there, thanks for checking out my site. I agree that this dish shouldn’t be compared to the authentic Borscht as this soup doesn’t taste anything like the real Borscht. However since most of the Cantonese restaurants list this soup as Cantonese Borscht and figured it’s less confusing to readers who are looking for this recipe :)

  2. Glad I found an article about this! I was watching a drama (“Just You”) and a Chinese/Taiwanese? girl said she was going to make borscht for dinner. Then another man said it was the same as the one his mom used to make, which seemed to imply that it was a common/popular enough dish to be passed down to different generations. I was very confused, since I thought it was a very specific European dish. Then I found this article and it cleared it up for me. Thanks!

    • Hello Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by and I am glad to hear that this post was helpful to you.

  3. Hi Yi, Thank you so much for the recipe! I made this for my boyfriend’s family (they are from Hong Kong) coming over and it was a big hit! I substituted beef with pork bone because someone cannot eat beef in the family and it resulted in a nice, sweet soup as well. Thank you again for posting this. It was so helpful. I will definitely make this again.

  4. I love your blog. We are from NYC, but live in NJ now. Last year we went to Hong Kong and China and I found your blog trying to recreate some of the amazing dishes we had on our trip.

    • Hello Leigh, thanks for checking out my blog! I am so glad to hear that you enjoy authentic Chinese food! Hope you get to try some of the recipes from this site and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

  5. This is one of my favorite soups of all time! I love the combination of tomato, oxtail and bay leaf. My family used to go out to eat at a Cantonese diner that would sometimes serve this as the soup of the day, and I always crossed my fingers hoping it would be my lucky day to eat borscht! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello Emily, thanks for stopping by! Yes I absolutely love the flavor of this soup. I didn’t have oxtail on hand that day but I’d use oxtail instead of beef whenever I can. Hope you get to have this soup next time you visit the Cantonese diner!

  6. Healthy and scrumptious! A lovely soup.



  7. Hi
    Could you share how to make good:
    (1) beef broth
    (2) vegetable broth

    • Hi Yi
      Do hope you can share how to make the broths.
      Do you always make them in advance so you have some when needed?

    • Hello BK, I like to have some stock on hand or frozen in my freezer. I do use the store bought stock for emergency only. I’ll post some how-to-recipes for the broths. Please stay tuned.

    • Hi Yi
      Thanks for your reply.
      Do also share how you freeze them and info like how long they can keep etc.

    • My pleasure. Will include how to freeze the broth. Thanks again for visiting.

  8. Hi
    Could you share how to make:
    (1) beef broth
    (2) vegetable broth

  9. I love making Chinese borscht, but I usually make it with pork spareribs or chicken drumsticks instead of beef. I also love the Ukrainian/Russian borscht.

    • Hello Link, thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to try the pork and chicken version though. I am sure they taste very good. Yes I love Russian borscht as well. I especially like to make Russian borscht cold and serve in the summer!

  10. Love borscht, Love canto soups, and so I absolutely adore what you did with this. When it’s cold, there is nothign that I crave more than a good bowl of soup (might have rambled on a bit too much about that in my blog lately, but, still..). I will definitely be trying your recipe on a cold chilly night!

  11. A light, comforting and warming soup. Love it!

  12. This soup looks like it would be wonderful on a day like this – up north a couple hours from the city, it was -10 when I got up this morning! Definitely soup weather and I think this one will find it’s way to the table this week!

  13. My father loves borscht and always kept a jar in the fridge. Of course, it was not this borscht. I think I would like this borscht but his-not so much!

  14. Hi Yi, this soup sounds delicious and so comforting for a wet day, plenty of rain here since it is the monsoon season:)

  15. This is perfect for cold weather we are having and I’m sure many times colder in NY. If the soup looks delicious like this, I would even have it during summer. Have a great week ahead, Yi! :)

  16. It has even been a little chilly by Hong Kong’s standard over this last week with evening temperatures dipping down to 11 degrees celsius. I know that is nothing compared to NY low temps but your soup will really hit the spot. Really looking forward to your special CNY rollout on your blog. 新年快乐!

  17. Having been born in Tallinn, Estonia where borscht was something served at least once a week, I have to admit I do not understand [tho’ I do accept] that the soup can be made without beetroot ~ in Estonia its other name is ‘beetroot soup’! Always has been, always will be!!! I agree with Sissi that it should have a sourish flavour, but your lovely version can but be ‘in the style of’ . . . :) !

    • Hi Eha, thanks for stopping by. I have to agree that this is not the borscht that everyone’s used to and it makes one wonderful how a dish gets totally transformed when it travels to a different part of the world. I’ll have to do a bit more research on the original of this version of “borscht” haha. In my weak defense though, I’d say there is some sour flavor coming from the tomatoes. Maybe that was the reason this soup was tied to borscht? :)

    • Why on earth do you need ‘defense’ :) ? Methinks Sissi is totally correct when she talks of a tasty, warming beef soup avec les tomates :) ! To provide that tang!! ‘I do it my way and you do it your way’!!!! Looking forwards to your name in the letterbox!!!!

    • Definitely the term “borscht” is applied by some Eastern Europeans to certain cabbage soups.

    • Very interesting discussion! Actually the name “borscht” (or “barszcz” as it’s written in Polish) comes from the name of a big plant (hogweed in English, lat. Heracleum sphondylium L.), which is in Polish called also “barszcz” and which was used a long time ago, fermented, as a sour basis for certain soups.
      Nowadays juice from fermented beets is used in the red borscht and if someone doesn’t have much time, even lemon juice might be used to make the soup tangy (I talk here about beet soup). I do this often 😉
      In Poland there is a soup called “white borscht”, which is made based on juice from fermented flour and which is traditionally served for Easter. It is also sour. (This soup is very close to “zurek” and according to wikipedia exists also in Belarus, Czech Republic and Slovakia).
      I agree with Eha partly: in Poland also when someone says “borscht” it means sour beetroot soup. If someone talks about the white sour soup, he adds always the word “white”.
      There is also a third “borscht” called “Ukrainian” which contains lots of cabbage. It is also slightly sour, but I think judging by the looks it’s closest to Yi’s Chinese twist.
      All this makes me so hungry for nice red borscht with small dumplings!!! I haven’t had it for ages!

  18. This is the kind of meal that I enjoy, especially when it is cold…very comforting Yi.
    Have a great weekend 😀

  19. This looks so warming and delicious!

  20. I agree with Sissi. Borscht = sweet n sour. Would a splash of one of the Chinese vinegars work?

  21. Wow, this looks incredibly good! We’re all about soups in the cold weather, and we, too, got the lovely experience of the polar vortex. So we’ve been making soups nonstop! This looks terrific – thanks.

  22. Might try this. Thanks for the recipe. What I’ll do is add a parsnip (have them on hand) and omit one tomato. Parsnips are sweet. The texture is more fibrous than carrot but I think it will work.

    Is that shin beef you’re using? I use that when I make Chinese beef stew and I also use tendon. Wish I’d made my stew last week.

    • Hi DB, feel free to add and remove any vegetables to fit your preference. Yes I used beef shin for the soup. I just love the texture of shin. Please let me know how you liked the soup!

  23. Might try this. Thanks for the recipe. What I’ll do is add a parsnip (have them on hand) and omit one tomato. Parsnips are sweet. The texture is more fibrous than carrot but I think it will work.

    Is that shin beef you’re using? I use that when I make Chinese beef stew and I also use tendon. Wish I’d made my stew last week.

  24. Hi Yi, since it has cabbage, you have every right to call it a cabbage borscht. I bet this would even prettier using red cabbage. I wonder if that affects the flavor.

    • Good call on the red cabbage. I personal think the difference between the two types of cabbage is very sublet.

  25. Your soup looks wonderful! As for the borscht, it doesn’t always contain beetroots: I don’t know Ukrainian cuisine well enough, but in Poland (borscht is not only Ukrainian, but in general Eastern and Central European soup) there is red borscht containing beetroots and also white borscht which doesn’t contain any. In theory borscht should be more or less sour.

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