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Among my many soup recipes, this borscht recipe holds a special place in my heart. It’s inspired by what my grandma used to make for me growing up, even after we moved from Russia to the U.S. as refugees 30 years ago. Sadly, I didn’t get her original beet soup recipe and she no longer remembers the details, but I did my best to recreate her classic Russian borscht soup. The earthy flavor of beets really sets this one apart from other veggie soups!
Why You’ll Love This Borscht Recipe
- Rich, earthy taste with a hint of sweetness
- Hearty, tender veggies
- Fresh, easy-to-find ingredients
- Takes just 35 minutes
- Perfect on a cold winter’s day
What Is Borscht?
Borscht, pronounced “borsch” in Russian, is a hearty Eastern European beet soup made with beets, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, seasonings, sometimes meat, and a garnish of sour cream and dill. It’s popular in Russia and Ukraine. Borscht soup can be served hot or cold, and is known for its vibrant red color and earthy flavor.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best borscht ingredients, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Olive Oil – I prefer olive oil or avocado oil for sauteing the veggies, but you can use any cooking oil you prefer.
- Fresh Beets – Of course you’ll need these for a beet soup recipe! My mom and grandma always used coarsely grated (shredded) beets, so that’s what I did, but you can opt for finely diced beets or ones cut into larger cubes, depending on what texture you like.
- Other Vegetables – Carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and a diced onion. Some recipes for borscht also add celery, so feel free to throw that in.
- Garlic – Use four cloves of garlic for the best flavor. For a shortcut, substitute 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic instead.
- Beef Broth – In my experience, authentic Russian borscht is made with beef bone broth, which gives it a rich flavor. I use canned beef broth most often for convenience, but make bone broth when I have time. Though it’s not typical, you could use chicken broth if you want to, or even vegetable stock for a vegetarian beet soup.
- Tomato Paste – While it’s not totally required, this adds a flavor boost to your beet soup.
- Lemon Juice – Helps balance the flavors and brighten the taste. White vinegar is a common alternative in borscht soup.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Optional Garnishes – Traditional garnishes are sour cream, fresh dill, and sometimes hard boiled eggs. I use dill for garnish on top, but you can also stir it into the soup towards the end of cooking. If you’re not a fan of dill, fresh parsley works as a substitute.
How To Make Beet Soup
This section shows how to make borscht, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Saute the onions, carrots, and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots, and saute until the onions are translucent and starting to brown. Then, add garlic and saute until fragrant.
- Add the beets, potatoes, cabbage, broth, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
- Simmer. Bring the beet soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
- Finish. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the borscht into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill, if desired.
Borscht Recipe Variations
- Add meat – Many borscht recipes include beef or pork. Russians usually use beef and Ukrainians use pork, though there are always exceptions. I skipped the meat to serve as a starter and make the recipe easier and faster. If you want to add a protein, the best cuts to use are ones that have a lot of collagen and flavor, like beef stew meat or pork ribs. Dice 1 pound of the meat you choose, simmer in 6-8 cups of water for 1 hour, then strain the stock. Use the stock instead of beef broth in the recipe and add the meat to the pot at the same step as the beets and potatoes.
- Add root vegetables – Peel and cut rutabagas, parsnips, celeriac, or turnips into 1/2-inch chunks and add them at the same time as the potatoes. You can add them as additions (you’ll need more broth), or as a full potato substitute if you want a less starchy beet soup.
- Double the potatoes – My version of borscht is relatively light on potatoes, as I like to let the beets shine. If you want to make it more hearty, use 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of potatoes instead of 12 ounces, and add an extra cup or two of broth.
- Deeper flavors – Add a bay leaf or a touch of horseradish to enhance the richness of the dish.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. I recommend storing in glass, since beets can stain plastics.
- Meal prep: Cut and shred the veggies. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to make the beet soup. The beet soup itself also stores very well, so feel free to make the whole thing ahead!
- Reheat: Warm up in a pot over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired temperature. The microwave also works fine, but make sure to use a cover to avoid splatters.
- Freeze: Allow borscht to cool, pour into an airtight container or freezer bag, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
What To Serve With Borscht Soup
I love serving this borscht soup recipe as a starter to a variety of meals. Here are some of my go-to dinner recipes to serve after it:
- Chicken – While simmering your beet soup, make a simple sheet pan chicken and veggies meal or some juicy pan-fried chicken thighs. To feed a crowd, make spatchcock chicken.
- One Pan Meals – For a classic Eastern European dinner, serve this soup before kielbasa and sauerkraut or cabbage and sausage stir fry.
- Lamb – For special occasions or an elegant meal at home, I make boneless leg of lamb, but lamb chops work great, too.
- Salad – If you need a side to go with your main dish, you can’t go wrong with a cucumber tomato and avocado salad, or just a creamy cucumber salad (another fave at our table growing up!). If you make your borscht with beef or pork (see variations above), adding a salad makes it a perfect lunch without a separate main dish.
My Favorite Dutch Oven For This Recipe
This Dutch oven helps the flavors meld together during the simmering process, and it looks beautiful to bring to the dinner table. But if you’ve got a regular pot, that works too!
Borscht Recipe (Beet Soup)
This borscht recipe, a popular Eastern European dish, is a hearty beet soup bursting with earthy root vegetables. Easy to make in 35 minutes!
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Add the garlic. Saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add the beets, potatoes, cabbage, broth, and tomato paste (if using). Stir to combine.
Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream and fresh dill, if desired.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition info does not include optional ingredients.
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