by Olena

Ukrainian Borscht

by Olena

5 from 12 reviews

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.

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

What Type of Stock to Use?

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.

Bone broth: 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

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Ukrainian Borscht

5 from 12 reviews

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.

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Ukrainian
Scale

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

  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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add beets, remaining 1 tbsp of oil and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Turn off heat. Add vinegar, garlic and pepper. Stir and let borscht sit for 10 minutes to allow flavours to marry each other.
  8. Add dill, stir and adjust any seasonings to taste.
  9. Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, bread and garlic clove on the side (this is not for everyone).

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.

Notes

  • You can use regular stock from a carton. Preferably organic and low sodium, if you can. 🙂
  • 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.
  • This time I made Instant pot bone broth and used half of it diluted with water as a soup base.
  • If not using meat, you can add a can of drained beans.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

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.

27 comments on “Ukrainian Borscht

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  1. 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!!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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