Borscht or Red Beet Soup Recipe
Borscht is the most popular soup at our house. I start off my borscht by cooking a chunk of beef and then add lots of red beets, sautéed vegetables, potatoes and beans for a nice bowl of homey comfort food. This is a family favorite and the first thing my kids ask for when we come from vacations.
If you want to try more of my favorite Ukrainian comfort food recipes you’ll love this Fluffy Gnocchi Recipe, my yummy Homemade Chicken Dumpling recipe, and this incredible Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole.
With the approach of colder weather, soups and hearty meat dishes are back in season. This borscht recipe is and has been my family’s most favorite soup, ever since I can remember.
Everyone makes their borscht recipe slightly different. In my family, we like our borscht thick and hearty, full of root vegetables, meat, beans and, of course, lots of good-for-you nutrients.
Is This Borscht Recipe Eaten Hot or Cold?
There are all kinds of different ways you can enjoy a borscht recipe, but I personally like to eat mine warm. Borscht takes best when you allow the flavors to sit and meld for at least 20 minutes, then served with a dollop of sour cream.
Is Borscht Russian or Ukranian?
I get asked this question a lot. A borscht recipe like this one is one of the most commonly made soups in both cultures. The origins, however, are typically attributed to Ukraine.
That being said, pretty much every Slavic woman knows how to make a borscht recipe. And while we all use the same ingredients, in essence, no two women will make the same tasting borsch. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. One of those fun things!
When my mom was teaching me how to make beet soup, the first thing she told me was that it had to be red. Not pink, but red. She also said that all good wives knew how to make a bright red beet soup. If you follow this recipe, I can assure you it will turn out the perfect shade of red!
If you’ve never made a beet soup like this, here are a few tips to help you. There are several ways of preparing the beets for this soup such as cooking whole beets in water, roasting beets wrapped in foil, shredding beets first and cooking them in a skillet.
One thing that you have to remember no matter which way you make them, is to never boil them once added to the soup. If you do that, you will never get your beet soup to be the true red it’s supposed to be.
Also, if you’re pressed for time, or just don’t like working with fresh beets, you can use canned (just make sure they’re not pickled) beets with no problem.
How to Make Borscht
*For detailed recipe instructions see the recipe card bottom of the post.
- Cook beef chuck and aromatics in a large soup pot for several hours until it is fork tender.
- Remove the beef and shred it apart, discard the aromatics and keep the broth.
- Salt the water and use it as a beef broth base for the rest of the borscht.
- Cook potatoes in the broth.
- Using a separate pan, sautee onions, bell peppers, and carrots.
- Add beets and tomatoes, and the shredded meat and beans.
- Pro tip: instead of shredding raw beets and adding them to the vegetables, cook the beets in water or bake them in foil (at 350F) until a fork or a knife goes in easy. Then, shred the cooked beets and add them to the
- Spoon the mixture back into the soup pot along with salt and herbs.
- Allow the flavors to meld and serve the borscht with a dollop of sour cream.
Other delicious Soup recipes:
- Chicken Soup – A simple chicken soup.
- Chicken and Dumplings Soup – Creamy soup with dumplings.
- Smoky Hunter’s Soup – Hearty and delicious soup.
Red Beet Soup or Borscht is the most popular soup at our house. I start with cooking a chunk of beef and then add sautéed vegetables, potatoes and beans for a nice bowl of homey comfort food. It's the first thing kids ask for when we come from vacations.
- 4-8 quarts water (depends on the method of cooking)
- 1.5 lbs beef chuck, fat trimmed (you can substitute beef with pork or beef ribs)
- 1 carrot, peeled, whole
- 1 onion, peeled, whole
- 1 tbsp Salt to taste
- 4 to 5 peppercorns
- 4 tbsp neutral oil (I use light olive oil)
- 1 large carrot peeled, grated
- 1 large onion peeled, diced
- 1 bell pepper seeded, diced (optional)
- 3-4 medium beets peeled, grated
- 4 oz tomato sauce (or chopped tomatoes)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp coarsley ground black pepper
- 6 medium yellow potatoes peeled, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 15 oz can of kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 4 tbsp flat leaf Italian parsley finely chopped
- 2 tbsp dill chopped
Cook the beef and make the broth:
On a stovetop: To an 8-quart soup pot add 4 quarts water, 1.5 lbs beef chuck, 1 peeled carrot, 1 peeled onion, 4-5 black peppercorns, 1 tbsp salt and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the beef until fork-tender, about 3 hours. Continually skim the impurities with a slotted spoon that float to the top. Do not turn up the heat to a rapid boil or the impurities will make the broth cloudy. If the water evaporates below the level of the meat, just add a little more hot water to keep the meat submerged.
In an Instant Pot: Add the beef chuck, carrot, onion, peppercorns, the bay leaf, and salt together with 4 quarts of water and cook on "manual" for 90 minutes with the valve set to "seal". Then, allow naturally pressure release for 15 minutes.
While the beef is cooking, prep all the vegetbales.
Peel 6 potatoes, rinse them and dice. Cover with water and set aside.
Peel and grate 1 carrot. Peel and dice 1 onion. Open 2 cans of beens and drain them. Chop the tomatoes or open the can of the tomato sauce. Chop the parsley and dill.
Also, in a large skillet with 4 tbsp oil, fry 1 diced onions until slightly golden over medium-high heat stirring often. Add 1 shredded carrot and 1 diced bell pepper and fry for another 3-4 minutes or until slightly golden. Add 3 grated raw beets (Note 1), 4 oz of chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepperg, stir, cover with lid and lower the heat to low. Allow to cook on low heat, stirring often for about 15-20 minutes or until beets are soft.
Once the beef is cooked, remove it from the pot and shred it to small pieces. Discard the vegetables, aromatics and impurities from the broth and discard.
Add diced potatoes and cook on medium heat until fork tender, about 7-9 minutes.
Once the potatoes are cooked, add the shredded beef and beans. Bring to boil.
Add the sauteed vegetable mixture to the pot, bring to boil and turn off right away. Boiling too long past it coming to a boil will cook off the deep red color of the beets.
Taste and adjust the salt amount.
Add parsley, dill, and ground black pepper.
For optimal flavor, allow flavors to mend for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Serve hot, with dollop of sour cream.
You can sautee the beets with the vegetables while the meat is cooking like it describes in the instructions, OR you can boil the beets in a separate pot with the peel on for about 1.5 - 2 hours at the same time as the beef broth is cooking.
Alternatively you can steam the beets or bake them in the oven by wrapping them with a foil and baking for about 1.5 - 2 hours or until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.
If you boil, steem or bake the beets separately, just peel them as soon as they're cold enough to handle, then shred on a grater and add to sauteed onions and carrots.
Thank you for following me on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest!
Hashtag your photos #LetTheBakingBeginBlog so I can see your creations and for a chance to be featured!
Traditional Ukrainian borscht has cabbage in it.
Cabbage is very often added to borscht, you’re right. But growing up in Ukraine our family rarely added it, so that is what I was used to.
My papa’s side of the family is from East Prussia where Borscht is also very popular although it isn’t necessary to use beef; oxen, smoked pork even horse meat can be used (at least that is what our East Prussian spinster aunt told me) and like you she’d add whatever she felt like from the fridge/root cellar. She’d always used a small amount of smoked bacon but sometimes she’d add shredded red cabbage, sometimes not, sometimes some shredded celery root, sometimes potatoes often not and sometime it would be just bacon, onions and beets. She never added beans but I like them as well. I usually add about a1/2 tsp of dried crushed red peppers and a tin of no salt added tomatoes to a recipe similar to yours and use a pressure cooker to make the beef tender. Somehow that pinch of crushed red peppers in Borscht makes winter in Canada a bit more bearable.
Thanks for a great recipe!
Thank you for sharing all these delicious ideas! I love learning about what others are adding to their version of the classic.
Oh Yum!! I can’t believe I missed this post! Perfect weather for borsh too! I haven’t made it in a while, thank you for the reminder. Your recipe looks SO similar to my mom’s minus the beans, must be the Ukrainian roots. 🙂
I always add beans to my soups, it’s just how my family likes it, but other Ukrainians don’t, so I think it’s just a flavor preference more than the Ukrainian thing))
I’m the same way. I usually use bell pepper instead of cabbage. And I know some cooks that never add bell pepper to their borsch. Just a matter of preference.
I usually use any vegetables that I have in the fridge, if I have peppers I add them, if not.. it’s fine without too))
Beautiful borsh! Pinning it! Love the dollop of sour cream on top.
Thank you Julia!
Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to try that! Also, do you not add cabbage?
I do not add cabbage just because I personally am not used to eating it with cabbage, but many other people put cabbage or sauercrout.