Eating traditional Doukhobor borscht is a common Kootenay experience. The hearty soup has an orange hue, unlike the purple-red of other beet soups, and is rich to the point of decadence, with whipping cream, butter, cabbage, celery, tomato, and four different root vegetables. Enjoying a warm bowl of it is like being hugged by a matronly Doukhobor baba.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the Doukhobor Discovery Centre will be hosting its second Borscht Cook-off on Saturday October 14, 2023 starting at 11am. A variety of different recipes will be served by contestants, who will prepare their soup at home and then bring a minimum of a gallon to share with attendees. Three judges will award one winner at 1pm with a trophy that features a large green cabbage facsimile and a separate “people’s choice” award will also be given.

The Borscht Cook-Off will happen at the Doukhobor Discover Centre, 112 Heritage Way. (Dave Heath photo.)

The event is a great way to experience and learn about Doukhobor culture and history in Canada and British Columbia. It will be held at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, which is a reconstruction of a typical Doukhobor village, circa 1908-1939, with all of the major buildings, tools, handicrafts, and implements used at that time.

The Doukhobors fled persecution in Russia at the turn of the last century because, as a pacifist, communal people, they refused to take up arms to fight for the Czar. They were, and still are, legendary for their farming prowess and they chose to settle in Castlegar for the excellent soil here. It goes without saying that food is an important part of the culture and Ryan Dutchak, the Centre’s director says, “foods bring people together, they connect us to specific places, to our families, to our own heritage, and help promote cross-cultural understanding.”

The Cook-Off is open to people of all ages and entry will be between $10-$15. Attendees are welcome to taste the different varieties of borscht and will receive a custom designed mug upon entry. All the displays and exhibits at the museum will be free to view and there will also be showings of the documentary film “Borsch: The Secret Ingredient” in the audio-visual room during the event.

For more information about the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, visit