I was making this recipe: Cabbage Borscht, which was from the old Lincoln Del, one of my mom's favourite places. I mistakenly doubled the sugar, putting in 1/2 a cup instead of a 1/4 of a cup. Given the 2/3 of a cup ketchup, which was Heinz, the soup turned out way, way too sweet.

Is there any way I can rescue this?

  • 1
    FYI- Borsch is defined by the beets that are in it. Without the beets it is not borsch by definition. Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 15:05
  • 3
    "Cabbage borscht" is conventionally called shchi, though they are prepared quite differently in my opinion.
    – AdamO
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 17:22
  • 2
    NEVER use ketchup in borscht! Completely inauthentic! Use tomato sauce or tomato paste!
    – user41211
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 0:44

7 Answers 7


Removing dissolved sugar from a recipe, as in your soup, practically impossible.

You have two main choices:

  • Reduce the impact of the sweetness. Increasing acidity (lemon juice or vinegar for example--since ketchup contains vinegar, vinegar or more ketchup may be most compatible with your specific recipe) may mitigate how sweet the soup seems. This may or may not work--you would have to experiment, and it could make the soup taste worse worse (the risk being you would then still have to discard the soup.)
  • If you really like the borsht, and can eat (or freeze) it all: make a second batch with considerable lower sugar, and combine them. You will now have twice as much soup, but flavor balanced.
  • 6
    I'm not sure if ketchup would help, because there is more sugar in it.
    – Mien
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 8:12
  • @Mien Good point, although most ketchup is more acidic than sweet, thus the sugar in addition to the ketchup in the recipe. As I implied, only the second method would be really reliable.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 12:33
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    Heinz (the ketchup I have) is really sweet -- lots of HFCS in it, I think.
    – tamouse
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 5:35
  • 1
    @Mien - Perhaps tomato paste? Acid and umami, tho some sweetness as well. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:27

I'm adding this answer more for completeness than anything else but it is possible to reduce the sweetness in a dish by using a sweetness inhibitor. From McGee On Food And Cooking:

Not only are there artifical sweetners: there are also substances that block us from experiencing the sweetness of sugars...Lactisole is phenolic compound found in small quanities in roasted coffee...In very small amounts it reduces the apparent sweetness of sugar by two-thirds.

From Wikipedia:

At concentrations of 100–150 parts per million in food, lactisole largely suppresses the ability to perceive sweet tastes, both from sugar and from artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. A 12% sucrose solution was perceived like a 4% sucrose solution when lactisole was added. However, it is significantly less efficient than gymnemic acid with acesulfame potassium, sucrose, glucose and sodium saccharin. Research found also that it has no effect on the perception of bitterness, sourness and saltiness. According to a recent study, lactisole acts on a sweet taste receptor heteromer of the TAS1R3 sweet protein receptor in humans, but not on its rodent counterpart.

There is a branded blend of lactisole, sucrose and maltodextrin called Super Envision, which is the only commercially available version of this product afaik. It is used in concentrations of 0.5%-1%, e.g., if you have 500g of soup then you use 2.5g-5g of Super Envison. It can be found on websites selling Modernist cooking ingredients such as Modernist Pantry:


  • Is that really practical for home use? How would the use even calculate the add of 100-150 PPM, and do so at reasonable accuracy at the scale of a batch of soup?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 10:15
  • The branded product (Super Envision) I mention is the only commercially available way of getting lactisole and as I also mention you use it in a concentration of 0.5-1% of whatever it is you are trying to reduce sweetness in. Edited for clarity.
    – Stefano
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 10:41
  • Yes, how would a home cook with an existing batch of soup as indicated in the question calculate that concentration?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 10:59
  • I provide a sample calculation in the answer.
    – Stefano
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 11:03
  • For completeness' sake: in some edge cases, you could get rid of sugar by crystallizing it out, causing it to caramelize, using some kind of osmotic setup, or feeding it to yeast. Certainly none of that would apply to borschtsch... Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 22:56

I would remove some of the borsch and replace with water (removing some of the sweetness) and then rethicken it with a souring agent such as Amchoor (ground unripe Mango). Then add soured cream at the end to further thicken, improve consistency and remove sweetness.

  • 4
    You realize that removing X% of the soup, only to add additional ingredients is essentially the same as keeping all of the soup, but adding slightly more of the additional ingredients? :-) So no need to remove and waste any of the soup :-)
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 13:10
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    @SAJ14SAJ I'm getting somewhat weary of having to constantly justify my answers on this site. You and I don't know how much sweetness needs to be removed. By simply adding ingredients (in the quantity that may be required to remove the sweetness) you risk changing the nature and flavour of the soup. By thinning (you remove sweetness) and rethickening (with less ingredients) you have a better chance of maintaining the underlying flavour. A dollop of soured cream in borsch is frequently used to enhance the flavour anyway. Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 13:20
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    Sorry, but the methods are mathmatically the same, and I didn't mean to make you feel bad. Note the smilies. The difference is whether you discard some of the original borscht, or add more additional ingredients for the same effect, thus ending up with even more finished product. But the outcome in each spoonful is the same. This is a very geeky site, since it is daughter of Stack Overflow, so you will attract a lot of attention from geeks like me. We don't mean anything personal by being geeky-it is just our way.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 13:24
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    @SAJ14SAJ If you don't like my answer or don't feel it's an appropriate solution to the OP's question, please feel free to down vote it. Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 13:39
  • I'm not sure why there's dislike for this answer -- this isn't a blended soup; removing some of the broth (possibly to be used for a different purpose) will keep you from changing the solids to broth ratio.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 14:36

I was making Spanish rice, which, called for Ketchup to taste. Uh....the lid wasn't on tight and I put more than I liked. Result....dish was too sweet. Not undaunted, I considered adding tomato paste, which is not usually sweet and is in fact, slightly bitter due to the concentration of tomatoes.

Added, until the sweetness was virtually gone. A good save for me.....

Try it next time but be sure that you taste the paste and make sure it's not sweet.


I have always used pepper to reduce the taste of too much sugar and this also works the other way although sometimes I use a different sweet substance than sugar if I have put too much pepper in a sauce.


Salt, pepper, hot sauce. All in very judicious doses. Worked for me


Too much salt or too much sugar, strain half the soup and add more broth or tomato sauce and seasonings. You will lose half the nutrients and the flavor of the soup, but the salt and sugar ratio will be right. I agree lemon juice may help and sour cream definitely. I used oysters in a soup and I did not realize they were sweet and 2 tablespoon of sugar ruined my soup.

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