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 245 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 always make a huge pot of borscht with freezing part of it in mind. But I find that freezing compromises the texture of the cabbage (slimy) and potatoes (crumbly), so I just change the order of the ingredients and hold back on those two until last. Before adding them, I fill up some containers and freeze the soup that way, then continue the recipe for eating the rest right away. When reheating the frozen soup, it’s easy to add in the cabbage and potato and allow it to simmer long enough for the potatoes to cook. I even prefer the fresher taste of the cabbage not being overdone, and have even used bok choy for a delicious variation if I don’t have the regular kind on hand!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Olena! Growing up my Polish grandmother, aunt, and my father all made borscht but added ham. Does that change the recipe at all? Would I follow your suggestion for adding beef?
    Thanks – I love your recipes!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! This is unbelievably awesome borsch! I am Ukrainian myself and was very sceptical about the order of the ingredients (I would never ever put cabbage first!); then the amount of tomato paste (that’s too much, as I thought!). However, I took a risk and followed the recipe to the letter (except for adding a bit more water as it was too solid for me). The borscht turned out soooo tasty! I will never go back to my old recipe! Thank you, Olena!

    1. Aw, thanks, Ira! Means a lot to me. Grandma told me cabbage goes in first cause it takes longer to cook than other veggies in the soup.

    2. 5 stars
      Hi , my grandma was Ukrainian & my mom inherited her Borsht recipe.
      My family loves it also. It’s very much the same as Olena’s . I made it yesterday but could not find my moms book , so did remember most. But did put in too much vinegar my husband liked it not so much the rest of us.
      What can I use to add to my soup to Cover up the Vinegar flavour?????
      Please & thankyou . I used beef bones for my broth & cut off the beef, which added at the end.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing your grandmother’s recipe. We love borscht, but I haven’t made it in a few years. My husband would be so happy if I made it again. I’ll try your version and let you know how it turns out – I already know it will be amazingly delicious!

  5. 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?

  6. 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

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