Tiny Table Cooks… Olia Hercules Green Borshch

Welcome to Tiny Table Cooks… – a failsafe stash of recipes set to keep you and your family fed. We’ve teamed up with some of the country’s best cooks, bakers and foodies to bring you some tasty inspo, store cupboard saviours and freezable feasts.

From film to food, Olia Hercules has been on a culinary adventure since quitting her job as a film business reporter back in 2008. Making her dreams a reality, she trained at the renowned Leiths School of Food and Wine and then worked as a chef de partie in restaurants, including Ottolenghi, and as a recipe developer. After landing a deal for Mamushka, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes, from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, she went on win the prestigious Fortnum and Mason Award for best debut cookbook 2016 and was named Observer Rising Star of 2015. Soon followed a second cookbook Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond and this Spring will see the launch of her third title Summer Kitchen. Between recipes testing and bringing up her young family, Olia loves feeding her unceasing curiosity by researching food culture and culinary traditions of countries less explored.

Credit: Emma Lee

Olia Hercules’ Green Borshch (Zeleniy Borshch), from Mamushka

A few words from Olia… Come spring, we pick basketfuls of sorrel from mum’s vegetable patch, pick duck eggs from her ducks and cook this emerald-green beauty. You can use chicken or vegetable stock, but rich duck stock tamed by sharp fresh sorrel is a winner for me. It is not a true ‘borshch’ but more of a sorrel broth. Grandma Lusia always made a huge pile of Moldovan flat breads to go with it. I would keep the legs and breasts for a different dish use the back, wings and giblets for this soup.

Serves 4-6

1 duck, back, wings and giblets
1 onion, peeled but left whole
1 bay leaf
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper


1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
100g beetroot leaves and stalks, chopped or 1 small beetroot, julienned
50g sorrel, sliced with its stalks
2 spring onions, sliced
2 chicken eggs (or duck eggs), hard-boiled and chopped
1/2 bunch dill, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
60g sour cream to serve

1. Place the duck, giblets (bar the liver), onion and bay leaf into a large sauce pan and cover with 2.5L of cold water. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a simmer and skim the surface, discarding all the scum. Simmer on the lowest heat possible for 2 hours or until the duck meat falls off the bone. The liquid will reduce by almost half. Keep skimming it from time to time.
2. Strain the broth into a bowl, reserve the duck bits and pour the liquid back into the pan. Check the seasoning – add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pull the duck meat off the bones, discard the bones and set the meat aside.
4. Skim half a ladleful of duck broth from the very top (you are aiming to skim the fat here) and pour it into a frying pan. Boil off the liquid for a minute until you are left with just duck fat. Add the onions and carrot to the pan and sweat over a medium heat stirring all the time until the onion and carrot are soft and caramelised ever so slightly. These will provide beautiful sweetness to the broth.
5. Introduce this to your stock, followed by potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Add the beetroot leaves and stalks and cook for 5 minutes and switch the heat off.
7. Place some duck meat into each serving bowl. Then add the raw, chopped sorrel and spring onions on top and pour over the hot stock over them. Garnish with chopped egg, dill and parsley. Serve with a spoonful of good quality sour cream.

Borshch ready? We’d love to see your dish snaps – upload to Instagram and tag @tinytableofficial alongside the hashtag #tinytablecooks


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