Beef Borscht (борщ) is a classic Eastern European soup that is sure to warm you up on a cold winter day. Made from bone stock, beets, vegetables, and meaty beef, simmered to perfection to bring out all of its delicious ingredients. Vibrant colors and delicious flavors of borscht make it a favorite for dinner.
With roots from Ukraine and Poland, it's popular in Russia, the Baltics and across Eastern Europe. Many countries having versions of beet soup as part of their National cuisines. Common names are Russian Borscht, or Ukrainian Borsch or Polish Barszcz, Belarusian Borsh, Lithuanian Barščiai, Romanians Borș Rusesc ... as this soup has a place in our all shared cultural histories.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Boost Your Veggies - jam packed with vegetables, a hearty and healthy soup
- Adaptable - add more or less vegetables, make this recipe your own
- Easy - follow along the step by step instructions, soup is an easy meal to make
- Makes a Large Pot - feed your whole family, enjoy leftovers or freeze for another meal
- Beef Bones - the meatier the better, tastier with marrow
- Beef - stew beef, chuck steak or even a small roast
- Vegetables - celery stalks, carrots and onion
- Spices - whole peppercorns, whole cloves, bay leaves
- Beef Stock - homemade always tastes best
- Vegetables - beets, cabbage, onion, potatoes, carrots
- Herbs - Bay Leaf and fresh dill
- Beef - shredded or cubed from the broth
- Red Wine Vinegar - to balance the sweetness of the beets in the soup
- Seasoning - salt and pepper to taste
Best Meat for Borscht
To make a meaty and flavorful borscht, you need to use a combination of soup bones with meat. You can only use meaty bones, and pick off the meat to add back into the borscht. For a meatier Beef Borscht, add beef into the broth for a richer flavor (and a meatier soup). Here are some cuts of beef to use.
- Soup Bones - the meatier the better, to add into your soup
- Short Cut Beef Ribs - meat and bones, easily fits into Instant Pot or Stovetop
- Osso Bucco - cross cut beef shank, with marrow bones
- Chuck Steak - easily chopped into large chunks
- Roast - large chunk of roast that easily shreds into your soup
It All Starts with the Broth
The key to a tasty Borscht is to make a homemade beef broth. I even saved the bones from my Tomahawk Steak to make bone broth. To save time, use a pressure cooker to make Instant Pot Bone Broth, as full flavor broth only takes an hour. Alternatively, it's easy to make traditional stovetop stock.
Stovetop Beef Broth
- Prepare - place beef bones, beef, celery stalks, carrots, onion, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves into a large stock pot
- Fill the Pot - fill with water and bring to a boil.
- Cook - Allow to simmer on low, with a semi-covered lid for 2-4 hours (the longer the better). Skim off any impurities from the top while simmering
- Strain - Strain the soup stock into a colander over a large bowl. Remove the meat and set aside. Using a cheesecloth, strain soup again for a clear beef stock.
Instant Pot Bone Broth
- Prepare - place beef bones, beef celery stalks, carrots, onion, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves into the Instant Pot
- Fill - fill with water to the MAX line in the Instant Pot
- Cook - Close and lock the lid and set the pressure on Manual High for 90-120 minutes.
- Vent - Allow the steam to vent naturally for at least 15-30 minutes, or until the float valve drops. Do not burn yourself as the steam is very hot, and do not open until fully vented!
- Strain - Strain the bone broth through a colander, removing the meat. Strain again through a cheesecloth for a clear broth.
How to Make Borscht
- Make Soup Base - while broth is simmering, start preparing your vegetables. Alternatively, you can use store-bought beef stock
- Fry Onions - caramelize onions until they a golden brown. Set aside. Pro Tip: frying onions separately from other vegetables ensures better flavor and caramelization compared to frying them with other vegetables.
- Peel and Grate - peel beets and carrots. Grate using a box grater.
- Caramelize Beets and Onions - Fry beets and carrots until they are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes, and set aside
- Peel and Cube - peel potatoes and chop into bite size cubes, set side
- Shred Cabbage - thinly slice, like you would for coleslaw, set aside
- Cook Potatoes - Bring Beef Broth to a boil in a large stockpot. Add potatoes and bay leaf and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes
- Add Cabbage - mix in shredded cabbage and fried onions and simmer for 5 minutes
- Stir in Beets and Meat - add caramelized beets, carrots, and shredded beef. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes
- Season - balance flavor by adding red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
- Garnish - add fresh chopped dill into soup or when serving
Beef Borscht Soup Variations
There are so many borsch variations across Eastern Europe, and everyone thinks they have the 'right way' to make borsch. Truth is, it's a versatile recipe that you can make your own. Here are some suggestions.
- Moscow Borsch - instead of adding shredded beef, add smoked meats (like smoked brisket) and sausages to this recipe
- Sorrel Soup - sometimes called Green Borscht
- Pork Broth - Ukrainian borsch is often made with pork
- Svekolnik - a cold summer borscht that's vegan
- Vegetarian Borscht - skip the meat, make a Vegetable Stock, and add canned white beans to your soup
- Shchi - classic cabbage soup, like borsch without beets
- Holodnik - a cold beet soup that's based on kefir, bright pink in color!
- Fish Borscht - skip the meats and make a fish stock and add fish pieces
What to Serve with Borscht
Dark Rye Bread - Borodino Rye is amazing but hard to find, use the darkest rye you can find
Smetana - homemade Russian sour cream won't curdle the soup like your store-bought version
Cabbage Piroshki - a tasty hand pie stuffed with cabbage
Pickles - everyone loves eating a crunchy dill pickle
Pampushky - fluffy garlic bread buns
Cabbage Pie - this puff pastry pie is the perfect side for borscht
Vodka - yup, are you really surprised? A shot of Horseradish Vodka builds your appetite
Borscht Recipe Tips
- Wear Gloves - you will have pink hands from grating the beets. Don't worry it washes off easily
- Beet Leaves - add chopped Beet Greens or Beet Leaves to the soup, mix in the final 2 minutes before serving
- Cool Broth in Fridge - prepare beef broth in advance and cool in the fridge. When it is cold, the fat layer solidifies and is easy to remove (resulting in a lower fat soup)
- Roast Beets - wrap unpeeled beets and carrots in foil, roast at 400°/200°C for 45 minutes, easily peel beets after they're cooked. Small beets roast faster
- Golden Beets - substitute red beets with golden beets for a different soup
- Add tomatoes - chop a few tomatoes and add with your shredded cabbage, or add a tablespoon of tomato paste
- Napa Cabbage - not traditional, but Napa can be used in borscht. It's a gentler cabbage and will break down quicker in the soup
- Fridge - place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days
- Freeze - place in small containers and freeze up to 3 months. Allow to defrost in fridge overnight before reheating
- Stovetop - place in a pot on the stove and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Microwave - reheat bowl in microwave for 90 seconds. Add extra 30 seconds if needed
Why is Borscht Spelled with a "T"
Phonetically in Russian and Ukrainian, it's pronounced and spelled Borsch (борщ). Borsch spelled with a T is the American spelling. This comes from the Yiddish pronunciation, as it was popularized in America by the Jewish and Mennonite communities.
Is Borscht healthy?
Yes! Beet Borscht is a high in folate and managanese, and beets have even been known to reduce blood pressure. Beetroot has incredible health benefits. Slavs love eating beets and are creative with their beet recipe ideas.
Soup Recipes You Need to Try
- Traditional Hungarian Goulash Soup
- Finnish Salmon Soup
- Italian Minestrone Soup
- Ukha - Russian Fisherman's Soup
- Okroshka Cold Summer Soup
- Chinese Chicken Corn Soup
Beef Borscht is an incredibly healthy soup, full of vitamins and minerals. It was enjoyed by Soviet cosmonauts in space! Comfort food for my family when they get sick. At the first sign of a sniffle, I pull out my soup pot! Who needs chicken soup, this is much healthier and packed with nutrients. Bon Appetit. Приятного аппетита!
- 14 cups beef stock 3½ litres or 3½ quarts
- 3 medium beets peeled and grated
- ½ small cabbage shredded
- 1 onion diced
- 4 medium potatoes cubed
- 2 carrots grated
- 1 bay leaf
- shredded beef from soup bones
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Beef Stock for Borscht
- beef soup bones
- 1 pound (500 grams) beef steak or roast
- 2 celery stalks with leaves
- 2 carrots
- 1 large onion cut in half
- 8-10 peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
Beef Stock for Borscht
- Place beef bones, beef, celery stalks, carrots, onion, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves into a large stock pot
- Fill with water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low, with a semi-covered lid for 2-4 hours (the longer the better). Skim off any impurities from the top while simmering
- Strain the soup stock into a colander over a large bowl. Remove the meat and set aside. Using a cheesecloth, strain soup again for a clear beef stock.
- Prepare vegetables. Dice onions. Peel and grate beets and carrots. Peel and cube potatoes. Shred Cabbage.
- Fry onions until they are golden brown, set aside. Fry beets and carrots until they are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes, and set aside.
- Place beef broth in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Add a bay leaf and cubed potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the shredded cabbage and fried onions to the soup. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the fried beets, fried carrots and shredded beef to the soup, stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Add the red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add more vinegar and seasoning if necessary. Add dill and save some for garnish when serving. Serve with sour cream and dark rye bread.
©PetersFoodAdventures.com *originally posted July 2016, updated April 2023