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.
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.
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 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, Coarsely Chopped (1 Cup)
- 2 Carrots, Diced ½" (1 Cup)
- ½ c Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp 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