This Beet Borscht recipe (Красный борщ) is an authentic Slavic soup recipe. If you love beets or beetroot as they say in the UK, then you need to try this beetroot soup recipe! Borscht exactly like my mom taught me to make it.
With roots from Ukraine and Poland, it's popular in Russia, the Baltics and across Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania). Many countries having versions of this as part of their National cuisines. So you will commonly find Russian Borscht, or Ukrainian Borscht or Polish Borscht, Belarusian Borscht... as this soup has a place in our all shared cultural histories.
Why is Borscht Spelled with a "T"
So who knew there was a controversial way to spell borscht? Well the internet is a wonderful and crazy place, with many opinions. I never knew that people could be triggered by a spelling of a word!
I've spelled this as Borscht with a T on the end, but phonetically in Russian and Ukrainian, it's pronounced and spelled Borsch. Borscht with a T is the American spelling of this recipe. In Poland it's called barszcz, Romanians call it borș rusesc, Lithuanians know it as Barščiai. Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Moldovans call it борщ. So phonetically, it's spelled Borsh, but as most of my readers are Americans, I spell it the American way.
How to Make Borscht Soup
All tasty soups start with a really good broth, I use meaty beef bones to make my bone broth. The best bone broths are made in an Instant Pot which only takes an hour to make. You'll get the best result for the nutrients from the bones, and the meat falls off the bone to put in your soup later. My mom never used a pressure cooker and always boiled the bones for a few hours on the stove. When the borscht broth is done, just strain it through a cheesecloth to remove small impurities. You can make the broth the night before, or if in a hurry, just buy broth from the store.
Prepare all the vegetables in advance making it easy to cook. My mom always fried the onions separately until they are nice and caramelized. Caramelizing onions separately from other vegetables always seems to make the soup taste nicer. The raw beets are peeled and grated, and then caramelized with carrots and onions in a frying pan. Some people skip frying the beets and carrots, but it gives your soup a nicer color, and everything tastes better caramelized! You can also oven roast the beets and carrots before grating and adding into the soup.
Bring the broth to a boil. Add a bay leaf and the cubed potatoes and let it cook for 10 minutes. Next, add the shredded cabbage and fried onions. Cabbage can sometimes a bit extra cooking time, especially if using the thicker cabbage stems. So the cabbage is cooked first because it needs more cooking time. Some people add a few chopped tomatoes at this point of the recipe, but we never did.
Finally mix in the caramelized beets and carrots into the soup. The soup becomes borscht when you add the beets into it. It's very satisfying to watch the color of the soup change! Always add freshly chopped dill and a bit of vinegar to balance the sweetness of the beets. Borscht is always eaten with the darkest rye bread you can find, with homemade smetana (sour cream).
Beet Borscht Soup Variations
There are borscht variations across Eastern Europe that make it with fish, chicken, pork, various vegetables and different spices. There are many proper classic red beet borscht recipes out there, all having a common thread across our shared ancestry. Borscht should have great meaty soup base made from scratch, fresh vegetables including cabbage, potatoes, onion, carrots and beets. Of course all topped with fresh dill and sour cream. You can make a vegetarian version too.
The variations from this recipe are up to you, and do vary. It's been enjoyed by Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Belarusians and Eastern Europeans as a signature Slavic dish. Borscht is so popular, that it was even eaten in tubes by Soviet cosmonauts in space. This is one of my very first videos, so the quality isn't great (I'm still learning), but you will still understand how I make it all.
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.
Why Isn't My Borscht Red?
There are varying degrees of red when making Borscht Soup. As the color comes from the beets, add an extra beet for more color, especially if beets you're using are small. Not enough beets will impact the color of your soup. Caramelizing the grated beets and carrots also add a lovely red colour and flavor, so I don't recommend skipping this step.
Borscht Recipe Tips
- Make Instant Pot Bone Broth for an amazing soup base
- Use chopped up Beet Greens or Beet Leaves, and add it into the soup to cook for about 2 minutes before serving.
- Prepare the bone broth the night before, it takes half the work out when you're ready to make borscht
- Use pork ribs instead of beef bones
Russian Soup Recipes You'll Love
- Shchi Cabbage Soup
- Svekolnik - Cold Summer Borscht
- Sorrel Soup
- Okroshka with Kefir
- Ukha - Russian Fisherman's Soup
Borscht is an incredibly healthy soup, full of vitamins and minerals. It's 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 as beets are full of health benefits. Bon Appetit. Приятного аппетита!
- 14-16 cups beef stock as per recipe below
- 3 medium beets peeled and grated
- ½ small cabbage shredded
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 medium potatoes cubed
- 2 carrots grated
- 1 bay leaf
- shredded beef from soup bones
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Beef Stock for Borscht
- beef bones
- 2 celery stalks with leaves
- 2 carrots
- 1 large onion cut in half
- 8-10 peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 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 14-16 cups prepared beef broth in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the temperature to a simmer. Add a bay leaf and the cubed potatoes, allowing to cook for about 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.
Beef Stock for Borscht Soup
- Place beef bones, celery stalks, carrots, onion, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves into a large stock pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer on low with a semi-covered lid for about 4 hours. (the longer the better).During the cooking process, skim off any impurities off the top while simmering.
- Strain the soup broth into a colander over a large bowl to remove the big bones and vegetables. Pick the meat off the bones and set aside for the soup. Using a cheesecloth (muslin), strain the soup again to remove the small impurities to make a clear broth.