by Olena

Ukrainian Borscht

Olena Osipov
5 from 31 votes

Ukrainian Borscht is traditional sweet and sour soup made with beets, cabbage, garlic and dill in Eastern Europe. Then served with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread. This is my grandma’s original borscht recipe I grew up on in Ukraine.

Looking for more Ukrainian recipes? Try my lazy cabbage rolls, Instant Pot beef stew and I recently started making Instant Pot borscht.

Ukrainian Borscht

Borscht Recipe

Borscht! A true classic soup every Ukrainian grew up on. If you don’t know what borscht soup is, it is deep red coloured soup with cabbage, beets, potatoes and maybe beans and beef. Then served with sour cream and dill. Essentially, borscht is a superfood and a meal in itself.

There are as many variations of Ukrainian-Russian borscht recipe as there are regions and families. Everyone makes it differently, even within the same family. All of the girls in my family – mom, grandma, sister, aunt and me made it differently. That is even in the same kitchen we all used to share. Even my sister-in-law and mother-in-law cook their borscht differently.

I promise Ukrainian borscht recipe would be one of the most delicious and healthiest soups you have ever tried. Enjoy!

borscht in white pot with ladle and white blue towel on a counter

Ingredients You Will Need

I like my borscht full of vegetables, with thin broth, lots of fresh garlic and dill. Borscht can be vegan, vegetarian, with beef, pork or even chicken.

It truly depends what’s in your fridge that day. That’s how borscht came about – out of necessity and hunger.

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Tomato paste
  • Water or broth
  • Beef or beans are optional. If you choose to add them, ribs, soup bones or any cut with a bit of fat is best. Then any large white, red kidney or pinto beans.

borsch ingredients include beets, cabbage, carrots, potato and dill

What Type of Stock to Use?

  • Store bought beef or chicken stock: You can use regular stock from a carton. It adds good flavor and I quite like it. I highly recommend to buy organic and low sodium. What I don’t like is a lot of packaging and price (in Canada) but hopefully you recycle. 🙂
  • Water: I make water based borscht more often than not because it’s easy. In this case, I make sure to add a can of low sodium beans to up the protein, a bit more olive oil and maybe an organic bouillon cube, if I have it.
  • Beef bones (my fave): If you choose to add meat, cook broth with ribs, soup bones or any cut with a bit of fat first. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour, skimming foam occasionally. After borscht is ready, remove meat, separate from bones and discard bones, finely chop and return meat to the pot.
  • Bone broth (my fave): This time I was ready, stopped by my local beef farm, got soup bones and made Instant pot bone broth. So proud today haha. So much health right here in this pot. It came out so rich, I diluted half of it with water and used for borscht. And cooked the other half with more water and same bones for more bone broth. Ukrainian in me will never die. 🙂 And I LOVE my Instant Pot, even only for this reason alone.

beef stock made in Instant Pot makes base for borscht

How to Prep Veggies for Borscht

You want to start with cabbage first because it takes longest to cook. While cabbage is cooking, you can prep other veggies.

  • Cabbage: Thinly uniformly shredded cabbage using a mandoline is my favorite. But my grandma always shredded it with a knife. Red or green cabbage doesn’t matter because beets will turn anything red. 🙂
  • Potatoes: Cube potatoes into smaller pieces to soak up more soup flavor. Cover them in a bowl with cold water to prevent from browning while they are waiting their turn.
  • Beets: Peel and cut beets into thin matchsticks. It is true beetroot is colourful but I do not appreciate the waste of disposable gloves. Instead, rub your hands and cutting board with a slice of lemon. Amazing!
  • Onion and carrots: Dice the onion like for frying, a mirepoix size. And carrots into small rounds and wider part into half moons.

chopped potatoes, beets, onion and carrots in glass bowls

How to Make Borscht

  • Cook cabbage in broth with bay leaves and peppercorns for 20 minutes after bringing to a boil. Chop beets, potatoes, carrots and onion in the meanwhile.
  • Saute onion and carrots in a bit of olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. This makes onion flavorful.
  • Then add beets and a bit more oil, cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Transfer sauteed veggies to the pot along with potatoes, tomato paste and salt. Cook covered for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prep garlic, dill and other seasonings.
  • Season borscht with vinegar, garlic and pepper. Stir, turn off heat and let borscht stand for 10 minutes covered to allow flavors to “marry” each other.
  • Add dill and serve. And that takes me to the next important part… What to serve borscht with? 🙂

how to make borscht step by stephow to make borscht step by step

how to make borscht step by stephow to make borscht step by step

how to make borscht step by stephow to make borscht step by step

borscht in the pot with ladle

What to Serve Borscht With?

My favorite part – What to serve borscht with?! That’s when I go all out.

  • Sour cream or yogurt: Sour cream is traditional. We use plain yogurt with more than 2% fat because it is lighter than sour cream. Last week I tried local buffalo yogurt which is apparently even more healthy than cow’s. Some people also love mayo in their borscht but it’s not for me.
  • Rye bread: Rye bread is dense dark coloured bread. I find mine in a bread section seal wrapped for freshness. It is often German. Sourdough bread would be great too! I toast it to resemble freshly baked Ukrainian bread. Nothing compares though. buffalo yogurt and rye breadborscht served in a bowl with dollop of yogurt
  • More garlic: Many Ukrainians eat borscht while biting on a clove of garlic in between the spoonfuls. The key is to eat garlic together with your husband and don’t leave the house that night.:)
  • More dill: I add dill to the pot and then to individual bowls. There is no such thing as too much garlic and dill, almost never. I’m such Ukrainian at heart. 🙂

This is how I ate borscht as a kid – rub garlic on rye bread, spread it with sour cream and sprinkle with salt. By the way, my Canadian born kids love borscht! Try on yours and see. Would love to hear how it goes. 🙂

borscht with yogurt, dill, garlic and rye bread

How to Long Does Borscht Last?

Borscht is like a good bottle of wine, it gets better with time. Therefore, I always make a very large pot and we eat it for days or freeze.

Refrigerate borscht in a large pot you cooked it in for up to 5 days. Reheat by simmering on low in small pot only amount you are planning to consume. Freeze in an airtight glass container for up to 3 months. Then thaw on a counter overnight and reheat.

This is how we do borscht. Have you ever tried borscht? Would love to hear your experience. 🙂

More Healthy Soup Recipes

borscht recipe

ukrainian borscht recipe

Ukrainian Borscht

Ukrainian Borscht is traditional sweet and sour soup made with beets, cabbage, garlic and dill in Eastern Europe. Then served with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread. This is my grandma's original borscht recipe I grew up on in Ukraine.
5 from 31 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 174kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 12 cups beef or vegetable broth or stock low sodium
  • 5 cups green or red cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large beets peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 large potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 6 oz can tomato paste low sodium
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 large garlic cloves grated
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dill or parsley finely chopped
  • Yogurt sour cream and rye bread, for serving

Instructions

  • In a large pot (I use 6 quart Dutch oven), add broth, bay leaves and bring to a boil.
  • In the meanwhile, wash, peel and cut vegetables.
  • Once broth is boiling, add cabbage, cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, preheat large skillet on medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp of oil to coat. Add onion, carrots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add beets, remaining 1 tbsp of oil and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer sauteed veggies to a pot along with potatoes, tomato paste and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. Add vinegar, garlic and pepper. Stir and let borscht sit for 10 minutes to allow flavours to marry each other.
  • Add dill, stir and adjust any seasonings to taste.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, bread and garlic clove on the side (this is not for everyone).

Notes

  • Refrigerate borscht in a large pot you cooked it in for up to 5 days. Reheat by simmering on low in small pot only amount you are planning to consume. Freeze in an airtight glass container for up to 3 months. Then thaw on a counter overnight and reheat.
  • Store bought stock: You can use regular stock from a carton. Preferably organic and low sodium, if you can. 🙂
  • Beef bones: If you choose to add meat, cook broth with ribs, soup bones or any cut with a bit of fat first. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour, skimming foam occasionally. After borscht is ready, remove meat, separate from bones and discard bones, finely chop and return meat to the pot.
  • Bone broth: This time I made Instant pot bone broth and used half of it diluted with water as a soup base.
  • Vegetarian: I make water based borscht more often than not because it's easy. In this case, I make sure to add a can of low sodium beans to up the protein, a bit more olive oil and maybe an organic bouillon cube, if I have it.
  • Beans: If not using meat, you can add a can of drained beans. Any large white, red kidney or pinto beans.
  • Sauerkraut: If you replace 2 cups of cabbage with 2 cups of sauerkraut, borscht will have even more umph.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 647mg | Potassium: 731mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3988IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg
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olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

70 comments on “Ukrainian Borscht

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  1. 5 stars
    I followed your directions exactly as written and this is truly delicious! If I were to add beans would I add them near the end of cooking?

  2. 5 stars
    A really good, simple borscht recipe! Mine was initially a little bland (probably from the chicken stock I used), but I added a little more boullion and some extra vinegar and it sorted things out. Looking forward to enjoying this for the next few days!

    1. 5 stars
      Great recipe and wonderfully easy to add or substitute. This was my first time making borscht and I used produce from a local farm.
      I used a water base and added one beef bouillon cube. This is just a terrific, savory soup that I look forward to making many more times in the fall. Next time, I will try completely vegan or with some meat…. I’ll probably try both.
      I did not have any rye bread on hand but would love to try.
      That dollop of sour cream on top is superb! I have never enjoyed so much garlic and dill before.
      Thanks for sharing this recipe and all the details

  3. 5 stars
    I worked in the Ukraine for 2 years, and borscht was my favourite meal.
    It varied from area to area its flavour texture are second to none. If you are given the chance to try you will not be disappointed

  4. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday and it is delicious! It reminds me of my many trips to Ukraine and my host family’s dinners in Brovary. I cannot wait to get back to visit my friends again soon.

  5. 5 stars
    There I was, searching for a borscht recipe that resembled the look of the delicious soup my Baba used to make, when I found your blog! I cannot wait to try your recipes!

    Sending well wishes and thanks from Vancouver Island!!

  6. Hi Olena, the Ukrainian Borscht looks delicious and I’m planning to make it. A few questions for you. Will a 5 and-a-half quart Dutch oven be large enough? (12 cups of broth, and other ingredients seems a lot.). How many peppercorns should I add to the broth? Do I remove them before serving or not? What potato do you recommend for this recipe? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Janette. 5 1/2 quart should be fine, that’s what I have. you can always start with 10 cups liquid. 3-5 peppercorns and you can remove them from the pot before laddling. Same with bay leaves. In Ukraine peppercorns were spicy, so we removed them for sure. Here I don’t cause they are pretty mild. We use any potato for borscht. Russet will fall apart more if that’s what you like. Enjoy!

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Olena, I wanted to let you know that I made your borscht, following exactly your recipe (including 12 cups of stock), and it was TERRIFIC. (By the way, I used red potatoes and they worked out fine.). The soup was sooo tasty. Thanks so much.

  7. 5 stars
    I love your recipes, I’m Czech living in US, I can’t stand the food here, you’re a savior, I’m inspired to eat again.

  8. 5 stars
    Hello,

    I want to mention that I truly admire that side by side with each step of the recipe you post tips on how to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Way to go!

      1. 5 stars
        So I did make this recipe and added crab and cod to it. It gave the borscht a different flavor, not so umami. I enjoyed it and would make it again when I’m in the mood for a seafood stew. I will mention that I was not able to find fresh beets in my supermarket. I went to 3 different markets so I settled for precooked refrigerated beets. I do not recommend precooked beets and to avoid it at all cost. Just make it another day when fresh beets are available. Thank you for your recipe. I will definitely keep it handy!

  9. I love borscht. I have to try adding carrots in my borscht. My recipe is from my mother-in-law and she uses just beets, water and a can of pork and beans. I use bone broth made from ham bone instead of just water. I find the soup has a richer taste than just water.

  10. 5 stars
    This sounds pretty close to how our family made it too (half Ukranian Auzzie here!) although if you don’t have fresh beetroot you can use a canned or jar version and add the vinegar it’s in as well. Works great! I’ve just made my stock and about to finish the soup off soon. Yes I use my pressure cooker as well especially to make broth/stock. I keep all my kitchen bones and veggies scraps the throw them all in the pot. This time I had a small pork hock and chicken wing tips too so threw the lot in. I made my own yogurt so will use that and husband grew dill which I washed and froze before we went on a month vacation in the outback. Didn’t want it all getting wasted. It’s fine for soup. So looking forward to this tonight. Very happy you reminded me of it 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    LOVE!!!!! Soooo good!!! Made it the first time and it came out tasting like my mom’s! And her borscht is legendary! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I made it with beef broth. I made it in the slow cooker over 12 hours on low. It was so rich and delicious. I applaud you!

  12. 5 stars
    Your instructions are wonderful and clear. This is very similar to the borscht my Baba taught me to make. (All her recipes were in her head, none written down). Just a few slight differences, we slowly cooked down the cabbage in butter/margarine until it was soft, then added it to the soup. And she liked to add a can of pork and beans, too. She would use whatever was fresh out of the garden, peas, green beans, potatoes, the dill…and we never had meat in it, either. Plus, we always used whipping cream or half’n’half cream – never sour cream. ( I wish there was someone in my family to ask why about this, as I have discovered sour cream is commonly used). We too, said ,cheap as borscht, but sadly, borscht is no longer cheap to make, food has gotten so expensive, and no garden!
    Also love your Avocado Egg Salad recipe, thank you.

  13. Being a Ukrainian I too make borcht every winter. I love it. I have learned to make some Ukrainian dishes, but they will never be as good as my mother’s. Thank you

    1. In step 3!

      1. In a large pot (I use 6 quart Dutch oven), add broth, bay leaves and bring to a boil.
      2, In the meanwhile, wash, peel and cut vegetables.
      3. Once broth is boiling, add cabbage, cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

      Hope that helps!

  14. 5 stars
    Wonderful and authentic recipe. My father was born in Ukraine and my mother in Poland. Myself and husband have been to the “Old Countries” 2 times. Both meatless and with meat are common. My family prefers borscht with meat. Traditionally, it is meatless is served on Christmas Eve as most Ukr Cdns are aware. And yes Vancouver Island is truly magical and beautiful. Marianna from Van Island

  15. 5 stars
    Such layered flavors and so fresh.
    It also feels like love in a bowl.
    My first attempt and you made me look good, Olena.
    Thank you again for yet another killer recipe!

  16. 5 stars
    Lots of different flavors in this soup. One of the recipes I can eat beets in?…I substituted parsley for Dill because that’s what I had, hope I didn’t defeat the flavor as of Dill. This soup is really good! Thank you I love all the flavors you bring out in your recipes!!

  17. 5 stars
    Do you bring your Dutch oven to boiling on heat? I just want to know if it’s safe cause I read somewhere not to put it on high. Otherwise it was taking a long time to bring to boil.??… To thank you for all your help!

  18. 5 stars
    Can I use water instead of the broth? Will it be a lot less flavorful? I do have bouillon cubes. Thank you

    1. Hi Stephanie. I make water based borscht more often than not because it’s easy. In this case, I make sure to add a can of low sodium beans to up the protein, a bit more olive oil and maybe an organic bouillon cube, if I have it.

  19. 5 stars
    I made this tonight at the request of my boyfriend’s son who was adopted from Russia. He wanted a traditional Russian meal and requested Borscht. This recipe was delicious! I will definitely make this again. I don’t have a lot of experience with Russian food, so this was really great to try. I can’t wait to make more of your recipes!

  20. 5 stars
    I’m from Odessa, Ukraine and I have to say this is totally authentic. Raw garlic in the end and rye bread mmm. Yes, I make it vegetarian all the time. I also add crushed clove of garlic to my plate, great especially for strengthening immune system.

  21. 5 stars
    Hello Olena, BORSHT!!!! YUM!!! Enough said .Please keep posting your Ukrainian recipes. I am a 3rd generation Ukrainian American and I cook all of my babsia and Ukrainian mother in law’s foods. But as you may know, Ukrainians LOVE to compare and try variations…I worked on my Easter Paska recipe for almost 40 years lol. Love your food!

  22. 5 stars
    My wife’s parents migrated from the Ukraine. We have both bey and beef borscht. I prefer the Beet. Our children all make borscht so the tradition carry’s on. Also love perogies homemade sausage and cabbage rolls

  23. 5 stars
    I add additional tomato paste Kirkland Organic Tomato paste, apple cider vinegar 3 table spoons. I used the the red kidney beans. Love the recipe.

  24. 5 stars
    Thanks! Reminds me of when I was a little girl. There was nothing better for me since it was PINK!! The colour of vegetable borscht was so impressive, never mind the expression “cheap like Borscht.” Its divine, I remember the fresh beet leaves and garden peas added to it. Wish I had some in my freezer! Good memories!

    1. Oh, I totally forgot about “cheap like borscht”. So true! Our beets never came with leaves unless they were fresh in late summer. But so interesting grandma never used them in borscht. Such a nutrition powerhouse. I truly suspect they didn’t know because no Google. Honestly, what we know now is amazing! Glad I brought you such sweet memories, Lisa. They are the best! We also had only fresh peas in season that we gobbled up. It was considered “a waste” to add anything fresh like peas to borscht – just eat it lol. It’s like baking berries – only when they are to go bad. Man, we had “nothing”, really. Now I have my own memories going on for me. So grateful for this amazing life in Canada we have now, really!

      1. 5 stars
        Imagine the decadence of garnishing the borscht with whip cream 35% instead of sour cream! Maybe that was my grandma’s way of defying the “old country”… and of course with thickly buttered white bread! Loved it! I also appreciated the days on which I could eat the peas straight from the pod! Nothing better! Loving our abundance and peace in Canada!

        1. Yum! Whip cream was a very special treat as well haha. Sour cream was more readily available. Yes, my grandma too loved white bread with butter. We often sprinkled it with sugar and it was dessert. Have a great night!

  25. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this heirloom recipe. It was our dinner yesterday night and this recipe is definitely a keeper. I was familiar with the (only) red beet borscht, but as I do not love beets on their own it was not on my rotation. On the other hand your recipe with cabbage, potatoes and carrots is simply delicious. I’ve actually forgotten the tomatoes…no wonder my soup was a bit pale, but next time I’ll be more prepared.

  26. We have some neighbors who recently returned from a church mission in South Eastern Russia and they mentioned meat was expensive. Once in a while the people used horse meat.

    1. That is true. We never ate a lot of meat – we couldn’t afford it. I remember mom making me sandwiches with horse salami. Not sure about the story behind why horse meat is cheaper or how do people get it. You basically eat any meat you can get your hands on, no cats and dogs of course.:) If you kill a chicken you eat everything including baby eggs inside, feet and all insides. Very tasty btw.

  27. I love Borscht! When I clicked to this page and saw the first photo I exclaimed out loud: “Oh, my! What a beautiful soup!” I have used a recipe in the past that called for shredded beef but I am anxious to try this Real Ukrainian Borscht! I have printed several of your soup recipes now to try. Thank you! Hopefully I can curb my ‘sugar tooth’ once again like I did several years ago. I know it can be done.

    1. Hi Laurene. Yes, I love soups!!! My SIL uses shredded beets and she is from Russia. Oh, you said shredded beef. That is different. You can boil good beef bones and shred some meat off of them. We did that. Usually there wasn’t much meat to shred though, it was only bones – no money for meat.

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