This traditional borscht is a comforting, sweet and savory beet soup just like my Ukrainian grandmother made it. Simmering it with beef adds rich body and becomes fall apart tender. Soft beets and cabbage meld together and create one of the most flavorful soups I know. Follow along and let's get cooking!
Inspired By Memories Of My Grandmother
Not long ago, I inherited some things from an elderly family member. When I opened the boxes, I saw my Grandmother's china and was immediately transported to her kitchen. The smells of her delicious soup, cabbage rolls and pierogis...I had to make borscht.
Many of the traditional Ukrainian and Polish recipes from my family were vegetable heavy and light on the meat. My grandma's family lived through war and rationing so meat was used sparingly. With that in mind, you can make this with a very small amount of meat, or none at all.
For some other light and vegetable rich soups, you might like my Roasted Cauliflower Soup With Hazelnuts, Vegan Potato Leek Soup or my Gluten Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup. All are loaded with vegetables, just like this traditional borscht.
Beets are a superfood. For some raw beet recipes and cool facts, read 10 Surprisingly tasty ways to eat raw beets (from justbeetit.com). And if you want to read about all the health benefits of beets, this post on Improving your Immune System with Beets tells you all about the vitamins and minerals in this veggie.
Where Is Borscht From?
Borscht is originally Ukrainian but has long been traditional in Russia and most other Eastern European countries and it's no wonder. The borders have changed countless times throughout the last 1000 years in that area. My great grandparents home was sometimes called Poland and other times called Ukraine. I found a really cool video on YouTube with a time lapse of the borders changing which helped me put the stories in perspective. Check it out here if you're interested.
I have made this borscht recipe is based on my mom's version which includes beef. Meaty, rich, sweet, tangy and savory. Full of healthy vegetables and at the same time warm and comforting.
- Beets - There are many types of borscht but this traditional borscht recipe requires beets. They are the star ingredient and give this soup it's rich flavor and color.
- Cabbage - A very traditional ingredient, the cabbage will soften and mellow out as it cooks.
- Tomato Sauce - This adds some nice body and accentuates the beet flavor without making the soup taste tomato-y.
- Stewing Beef - Inexpensive cuts are ideal for long simmering. Searing the beef to dark brown further maximizes the flavor. You can use less beef if you like, as little as a quarter pound will still add wonderfully to your soup.
Borscht is a great winter soup. Beets (and beet greens if you have them), carrots, onions and cabbage were/are easy to grow in the garden and they all keep well into winter. Sometimes I will add a diced apple for extra sweetness, another easy to grow fruit that keeps well throughout the cold season.
Step By Step Pictures
Traditional Garnishes For Beet Borscht
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and garnish with dill, this is gorgeous, rich and comforting fall food at it's best.
Borscht is not a difficult soup, it just needs time to simmer. Although my favourite version is this one with beef, it is very easy and tasty to make it vegetarian (omit beef and substitute veggie stock) and I have made it many times that way too.
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Cheers friends! Sabrina
Cheers my friends, I hope you love this recipe as much as my family.
Traditional Borscht Recipe
- 1-1 ½ lb Stewing Beef, Cubed Short ribs work well too, but skim the fat off the top before serving.
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, Coarsely Chopped (1 Cup)
- 2 Carrots, Diced ½" (1 Cup)
- ½ c Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 6 c Beef Stock If you are using a store bought stock that is salty, use 4 c of stock and 2 c of water.
- 2 c Beets, Diced ½", (Green Tops Coarsely Chopped Optional) About 3 medium beets
- 2 c Cabbage, Shredded
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
- ¾ c Sour Cream
- 1 Small Bunch Dill, chopped
- Preheat a large, wide heavy bottomed pot on medium-high. Once hot, add oil and then beef in one layer without crowding. Let it brown without stirring until it is well caramelized, then flip and brown other sides.
- Once beef is well browned, add onion and carrot, stirring gently. This will create a bit of moisture and steam and will help loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add in tomato sauce, vinegar and stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours.
- Add in beets, beet tops if using and cabbage and simmer 1 more hour. If the soup is reducing too much, put lid on for last hour.
- Season with salt and pepper and then serve adding a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill to each bowl.
Ukrainian Borscht Soup With Sour Cream And Dill
Love the family story inspiration behind this recipe - just lovely! Recipe looks so simple & comforting!
Thank you Jessica, it is simple and easy but such a rich flavour. 💕
Denise from Urb’n’Spice
I am a soup lover, so reading about your Ukrainian Borscht soup is so appealing to me, Sabrina. So hearty and chock full of vegetables - my kind of soup. I am looking forward to trying it. Many thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much Denise! It is super healthy and even better if you make it ahead 🙂
Sabrina, I love your version of borscht. It' s such a great hearty soup, perfect for the weather.
Thank you and yes! I totally agree, it is warm, comforting and full of umami goodness ❤️🧡💚
Corinna | Friendly Pantry
I've been wanting to make beet borscht! This recipe looks perfect and will accommodate our family's allergies. Thank you!
Corinna | Friendly Pantry
That’s excellent, I’m so glad 🙂 thank you!
I love your story Sabrina, it reminded me of my own memories of family gatherings at my Ukrainian grandparent's home ... everyone enjoying Grandma's borscht ... except for me. Grandma putting a bowl in front of me while telling me, "Eat borscht. It is good, " and me saying, "I don't like Borscht Grandma." Well I sure love it now! It is one of my favourite soups; I will have to try your version 🙂 ps: I love your Grandma's china; so pretty. I bet it makes you smile each time you serve food in them while remembering your Grandma.
Awww, thank so much for the kind words and funny story lol. I’m glad you like borscht now and ps. this is even better a day or two after you make it 💕
Leanne | Crumb Top Baking
It's so lovely that this recipe was inspired by your grandmother's china! I love how kitchen time and food can conjure up the loveliest memories! Thanks for sharing Sabrina!
Yes I so agree! Thank you so much 😊
Such a hearty and comforting soup especially for winter. I have never tried making borscht and your version looks healthy and delicious. Memories of grandma's food last forever. It was really interesting to see how the borders kept changing all through the last 1000 years.
Thank you 😊 It’s such a fabulous soup and very delicious vegetarian as well by omitting the beef and using veggie stock as my grandma and great grandparents did. I sure agree, the changing borders were so interesting to see, really eye opening 😊
Growing up in the Kootenays, I was used to eating the Doukhobor borscht, which is delicious, but very different from this one. It wasn't until I moved to the coast that I learned about the Ukranian version. Yours looks every bit as delicious, & I'm excited to try it!
Thanks Colleen! Now I’m curious, wat is the difference in the Doukhobor version? I know the Ukrainian one sometimes doesn’t include meat likely because of a lack of it during war time.
Recipes with a story and family history seem to taste the best. Thanks for sharing this special recipe!
You’re welcome Canessa, thanks for reading along 💕
I feel the same way about borscht as you do- I grew up with it too! This recipe looks divine! I see why that China inspired you to post this/ it’s gorgeous!!!
Thank ms Terri, it’s so nourishing isn’t it?!
This is so comforting! I usually only eat beets cold in a salad, and I love the sweetness so I'm glad I now have another way to prep them!
Awesome Julia! And apparently this soup is sometimes eaten cold too, in Latvia!
Yum! This Beet and Beef Borscht recipe looks so appetizing!
I love how this recipe brings back memories for you. We loved the recipe! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much Jill! It was really fun to hear everyone’s comments and connect like that on family day. Thank you for sharing:-)
I loved learning about your personal connection to this recipe! So special!
Thank you so much Addison
Sabrina, I watched your demonstration at the RBCM Family Day event. I made your beef borscht yesterday. I added the 1/2" cubed beets (yellow beets instead of red) along with the cabbage an hour after I added the tomato sauce, vinegar & broth. After that first hour, the beets weren't cooked. They weren't cooked thru three and a half hours later, long after all the broth evaporated away and the cabbage was cooked down to nothing.
Was I supposed to cook the beets before I added them?
Oh no! Mine always cook within an hour. Did you cover the pot? I mistakenly said you did not to cover pot on air, I was a bit nervous, so without the lid, it may not have been hot enough. The other issue can be that old beets can take longer to cook. 3.5 hours is longer than even whole beets generally take, so I am not entirely sure what went wrong. If you make this again, use fresh looking beets, add in more water if needed and use a lid once you add beets. Thank you for letting me know and do let me know if you try again or have any more questions.