Sharing my grandma’s authentic Borscht Recipe I grew up eating in Ukraine. This iconic beet soup is made with beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, garlic and dill. Then served with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread.

If you like borscht, be sure to try my green borscht, Instant Pot borscht or vegetarian borscht!

Ukrainian Borscht recipe served in white bowl with sour cream.

This is my grandma’s authentic borscht recipe I grew up with in Ukraine. She made it every week and I still have it in a regular rotation. It’s simply the best borscht recipe!

Everyone in our house loves it and I hope you will too!

What Is Borscht?

If you don’t know what is borscht, it is vibrant red color soup with cabbage, beets, potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic. It can be vegan or vegetarian, as well as made with beef, pork or chicken. Then served with sour cream and dill.

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

Essentially, this borscht is a superfood and a meal in itself. According to Healthline, beets are packed with iron, may help fight chronic inflammation and lower blood pressure. Then we add cabbage (vitamins, fiber and cancer fighting properties), potatoes (vitamin C and potassium), carrots (carotene) and optional protein (meat and beans).

“Borscht”, “bortsch”, “borsh” or “борщ” is a true classic soup every Ukrainian or Russian grew up eating almost weekly. It is pronounced without “t” at the end.

Borscht in white pot with ladle and white blue towel on a counter.

Is Borscht Ukrainian or Russian?

According to Wikipedia, borscht is Ukrainian dish that has a history of centuries. It is cooked in every household of any former republic that belonged to USSR – Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belorussia etc. Not to mention all over Eastern Europe.

There are as many variations of traditional Ukrainian borscht recipe as there are regions and families. Everyone makes it differently, even within the same household.

Fun fact. All girls in my family: mom, grandma, sister, aunt and me, had their own recipe. We all cooked in the same kitchen we used to share and yet everyone’s version of borscht was unique. Even my sister-in-law and mother-in-law cook theirs differently.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Borscht ingredients are very simple and vary on one’s fridge contents and region of Ukraine. Here are the main ingredients you could always find in my grandma’s recipe:

Cabbage, beets, onion, carrots, potatoes, beef broth, beef bones, oil, tomato paste, bay leaves, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, dill, sour cream.
  • Beef bones or beef broth: As a base, you can use beef broth or even chicken broth. Or pick up some beef bones like oxtail, shanks, short ribs or even pork ribs and make broth with it first. If your bones are not meaty, add some cubed stew beef. Please see below for more info about it.
  • Beets: You want to use red beets because they add the most red deep color to soup. Young beets in fall and summer will also taste more tender and fresh, just a different flavor.
  • Cabbage: Traditionally green cabbage is used but you can also use red cabbage because you won’t see its color in this soup and it tastes exactly the same.
  • Potatoes: Red or yellow potatoes, Yukon golds, russet potatoes or baby potatoes work.
  • Carrots and onion: For bulk and flavor. I use yellow onion but you can use white onion or red onion.
  • Tomato paste: To add more flavor and color.
  • White vinegar and sugar: You can also use any light color vinegar like white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Also any sugar or maple syrup works. It’s just to create that sweet and sour taste at the end of cooking.
  • Garlic: Please use only fresh garlic cloves and grate them or press them. Garlic in borscht is a must!
  • Dill: Just like with garlic you have to use only fresh dill and not dried dill weed. Fresh dill is an essential flavor profile in this soup!
  • Bay leaves, salt and pepper
  • Sour cream: For serving.

How to Make Borscht

Here is a quick rundown of how to make borscht. Also there is a video below.

It is actually very easy to make and anyone can do it. I like my borsch with variety of vegetables, with thin flavorful broth, lots of fresh garlic and dill.

Sliced and diced beets, onions, carrots and potatoes.

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

Shredded cabbage in pot with broth.

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.

Chopped onion and carrots in white skillet.

Saute onion and carrots in a bit of olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. This makes onion flavorful making entire borscht recipe more delicious. Do not skip.

Sliced beets and chopped onion and carrots in a skillet.

Then add beets and a bit more oil, cook for another 5 minutes. It’s called “zazharka”.

Potatoes, beets, tomato paste and veggies in a pot.

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.

Chopped dill, garlic, vinegar, pepper and maple syrup.

Season borscht with white vinegar, garlic, sugar and pepper.

Stir, turn off heat and let it stand for 10 minutes covered to allow flavors to “marry” each other. Add dill and your borscht is ready to serve.

Ukrainian borscht in white pot with ladle.

How to Peel and Cut Beets and Other Vegetables

  • Beets: Peel beets with a regular vegetable peeler and cut into thick matchsticks. You can also grate beets on a box grater or in a food processor. If you have fresh beets, you can also chop some beet greens and add to the soup.
  • Cabbage: Thin uniformly shredded cabbage is a key to a borscht with right texture. Don’t shred it paper thin so it disintegrates during cooking, and don’t cut into large chunks so all you taste is cabbage. Cut it into reasonably thin strands. I am experienced enough to do it by hand with a chef’s knife, but you can also use a mandoline if you still need practice.
  • Potatoes: Cube potatoes into small-medium pieces to soak up more of the soup flavor. Cover them in a bowl with cold water to prevent from browning while they are waiting their turn.
  • Onion and carrots: Dice the onion like for frying, a mirepoix size. And carrots into small rounds and wider part into half moons.
Broth and meat in Instant Pot with ladle.

What Type of Broth Should I Use?

  • Beef bones with meat (my favorite): If you choose to add meat to borscht, first make the broth. Cover beef with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour, skimming foam occasionally. After soup is ready, remove meat, separate from bones and discard bones, chop and return meat to the pot.
  • Bone broth (my other favorite): This time I was ready, stopped by my local beef farm, got soup bones and made Instant Pot beef bone broth. 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 to create more broth. Ukrainian in me will never die.
  • Store bought broth: You can use beef soup base or chicken soup base diluted with water. It adds good flavor, I quite like it. Or use broth or stock from a carton. I highly recommend to buy organic and low sodium. What I don’t like is a lot of packaging and price but hopefully you recycle.
  • Homemade broth: I often make batches of homemade chicken broth or Instant Pot chicken broth and freeze for later. It is cheaper than store-bought and is more flavorful.
  • Water and beans: I also make water based borscht more often than not because it’s easy and I don’t always have beef bones on hand. 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. As for beans, any large-sized beans like cannellini beans, red kidney beans (I love to make Instant Pot kidney beans) or pinto beans will hold the shape and add volume to this dish.

What to Serve Borsht Soup With?

My favorite part of the whole entire borscht recipe cooking process is serving it. That’s when I go all out!

Ukrainians like to serve it warm, with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of fresh dill in bowl, slices of home cured pork belly (salo), pampushky or rye bread and fresh garlic on a side. But on a hot summer day, cold borscht is just as delicious!

Sour cream or yogurt: Sour cream is traditional choice. Often we use plain yogurt with more than 2% fat because it is lighter than sour cream. It really depends what’s in the fridge. I think you are getting that’s the vibe of entire Ukrainian cuisine by now. Some people also love mayo in their soup but it’s not for me.

Rye bread: Rye bread is dense dark color bread. I find mine in a bread section seal wrapped for freshness. It is often German.

Sourdough bread would be great for serving as well! I toast it to resemble freshly baked Ukrainian bread. Nothing compares to pampushky traditionally served with borscht though.

Yogurt and rye bread on a countertop.

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 partner 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 enjoyed grandma’s Ukrainian borscht as a kid – rub garlic on a slice of rye bread, spread it with sour cream and sprinkle with salt.

By the way, my Canadian born kids love it! Try on yours and see. Would love to hear how it goes!

Borscht served in a bowl with yogurt, dill, garlic and rye bread on a plate.

What Does It Taste Like?

Traditional borscht definitely tastes like beets, sweet and tangy. Earthy flavors of beets truly shine through in this dish.

It is also kind of sweet and sour soup. We add vinegar and a little bit of sugar to compliment natural sweetness of root vegetables.

And lots of fresh dill and garlic after soup is cooked. As much as you like to personal preference, and us, Ukrainians, like to add a lot!

How to Store and Reheat

The best 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.

Store: Refrigerate leftovers in a large pot you cooked soup in for up to 5 days. Or transfer to an airtight container.

Reheat by simmering on low in a small pot only amount you are planning to consume. Or microwave in individual bowls for 2-3 minutes.

Freeze in an airtight glass container for up to 3 months. Then thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat.

More Eastern European Recipes to Try

Have you ever tried it? Would love to hear your experience. I promise traditional Ukrainian borscht recipe would be one of the most delicious and healthiest soups you have ever tried. Enjoy!

Borscht in white pot garnished with dill.
ukrainian borscht recipe

Ukrainian Borscht Recipe

Sharing my grandma's authentic Ukrainian Borscht Recipe I grew up with. This iconic beet soup is served with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread.
5 from 246 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 174
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

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 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large beets peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 large potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 6 ounces can tomato paste low sodium
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar or maple syrup
  • 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 tablespoon 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, sugar, 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).

Video

Notes

  • Store: 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: 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.
  • 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. Any large white, red kidney or pinto beans work.
  • 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 | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!!

    1. Ribs, soup bones or any cut with a bit of fat would be good. Steak or roast is too lean and tough. You cook them first with water to make broth just like I do in my cabbage soup.

  4. 5 stars
    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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 🙂

    1. Hi Sue! Thanks for sharing. I love your style of cooking and how you make/grow so much of what you eat! Hope you enjoy the borscht!

5 from 246 votes (68 ratings without comment)

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