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The flavor of this classic beet Borscht recipe is bright and complex, beautifully sweet and sour. The natural sweetness from beets and carrots balance a splash of vinegar added at the end. Beef makes it hearty and filling, and potato and hint of tomato paste add depth and thicken the broth slightly.

front view of classic borscht in white bowl

Until I made this soup, I have never had Borscht in my life, which is strange because my dad has Russian roots. But what’s even stranger is that I had been craving this soup for a good month before I caved in and made it!

Me and beets go way back, so Borscht is a natural fit for me. I love how beets stain everything in this soup with their lovely deep red color. No matter what’s in your spoonful, it looks like beets.

Of course the beets also stain your cutting board and your hands, but no matter, it doesn’t last long. Wear it like a badge of honor for making this glorious soup.

borsch in white bowl with vintage spoon

Are Beets Nutritious?

Not only is this hearty soup delicious, but it’s chock full of nutrition, starting with beets!

Beetroots, commonly just called beets, are a nutritious vegetable that are low in calories but packed with nutrients.

Beets are full of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium.

Beets Nutrition Information

According to the USDA Nutrition Database, a 100g serving of beets has the following nutrition information:

  • 43kcals
  • 1.61g protein
  • .17g total fat
  • 9.56g total carbohydrates
  • 2.8g fiber
  • 6.76g sugars

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets may help with chronic inflammation associated with a number of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and liver disease. This is because beets contain pigments called betalains that may contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets can significantly lower blood pressure and help improve circulation. The body converts nitrates from beets into nitric oxide, which helps relax and dilate blood vessels. This results in improved circulation.

Additionally, nitric oxide increases blood flow to the brain, which may result in better brain function. Even further, nitrates may help enhance athletic performance by making the body’s mitochondria – which are responsible for energy production on a cellular level – more efficient.

Read more about the health benefits of beets on HealthLine and Health.

pot of red beef and beet borscht soup with individual bowl next to it

Beet Soup aka Beetroot Soup

Can You Put Beets in Soup?

A common question is whether you can put beets in soup. The answer to that is, yes, beets are a wonderful addition to soup!

They add gorgeous color (they’ll even stain the broth red), tons of nutrition, and delicious subtly sweet, earthy flavor. They are a key component of this Borscht recipe.

What is Beet Soup Called?

According to Encyclopedia Britannica,

Borsch, also spelled Borscht, Borsht, or Bortsch, [is the] beet soup of the Slavic countries. Although borsch is important in Russian and Polish cuisines, Ukraine is frequently cited as its place of origin.

Encyclopedia Britannica

I’ve heard that the common spelling Borscht is the Yiddish spelling.

overhead view of borscht russian beet soup in blue and white bowl

Beet Soup as a Delicious and Nutritious Meal

This soup is so hearty it really doesn’t need meat to be filling. You can omit the meat if you like, but be sure to use a super flavorful stock. The potato disintegrates into the broth, acting as a slight thickener along with a touch of tomato paste.

The flavor of this soup is bright and complex, beautifully sweet and sour. The natural sweetness in beets and carrots provide the perfect offset for a generous splash of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar added at the end of cooking.

I think celeriac is a more traditional addition than celery in this soup. However, I went with celery because it’s what I had on hand. (And I’m not claiming that this version is authentic – it’s my own rendition – but it is delicious, and it definitely will be what I make for years to come when a Borscht craving hits.)

Fresh dill and a dollop of sour cream are the perfect finishing touches.

Pro Tip: For the paleo version of this soup, omit the sour cream when serving. Some people consider potato paleo, and some don’t; do what’s best for you.

bowl of classic borscht topped with sour cream

All About Classic Borscht Soup

What is Borscht?

According to Wikipedia:

Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), a herbaceous plant growing in damp meadows, which lent the dish its Slavic name. With time, it evolved into a diverse array of tart soups, among which the beet-based red borscht has become the most popular. It is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sautéed vegetables, which – as well as beetroots – usually include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, borscht may include meat or fish, or be purely vegetarian; it may be served either hot or cold; and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink. It is often served with smetana or sour cream, hard-boiled eggs or potatoes, but there exists an ample choice of more involved garnishes and side dishes, such as uszka or pampushky, that can be served with the soup.

Wikipedia

Traditional Borscht Recipe and How to Make It

Borscht Ingredients

borscht ingredients

It’s likely that the common version of this beet soup that we know today likely came from Ukraine. Traditionally, this soup includes:

  • Boiled meat or bone broth
  • Beet
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Parsley root
  • Potato
  • Onion
  • Tomato

Additionally, it may also include beans, tart apple, turnip, parsnip, celeriac, zucchini, bell pepper, and/or tomato paste.

Secret Ingredient in Borscht

an edible mosaic stamp logo 1200 square

Similar to my Zupa Ogórkowa (Polish Dill Pickle Soup Recipe), the “secret ingredient” in this Borscht soup is allspice! We only need a little bit for depth of flavor and complexity.

How to Make Borscht

Here are the general instructions, which are as easy as making any soup:

  1. Boil the meat and/or bones (usually beef or pork) to make stock.
  2. Chop the vegetables.
  3. Because of the different cooking times required, the vegetables are usually cooked separately from the meat, and then added into the stock once they’re tender.

In this recipe, we first sear the meat and then boil it until nearly tender.

searing beef

Then we add the vegetables to the soup during the last 30 minutes that the beef boils, so everything will finish cooking at the same time.

close up top view of pot of traditional borscht

Different Types of Borscht

Vegetarian Borscht

For vegetarian Borscht, you can use vegetable stock instead of meat stock. Additionally, you can add mushrooms instead of meat if desired.

Borscht with Meat

A non-vegetarian Borscht recipe may contain beef or pork, or beef or pork stock.

Borscht Without Beets

Red Borscht contains beets, which stain the entire soup red. There are also several versions of Borscht that don’t contain beets. The common trait they share is a tart flavor.

For example, green Borscht may contain tart-flavored sorrel, spinach, chard, nettle, and/or dandelion greens.

Another example is white Borscht, which contains a fermented mixture of rye flour or oatmeal and water.

Cold Borscht

Cold Borscht uses different vegetables, and usually has some kind of dairy added, such as sour cream, kefir, and/or buttermilk. Here’s my recipe for cold beet soup.

Regional Borscht Variations

There is much debate over the origin of Borscht, most notably between Ukraine and Russia.

Many different regions of Eastern Europe showcase their own variation of this recipe, and I’m sharing a few of them here. You can read more about the different types of Borscht on Wikipedia.

beef borscht soup

Ukrainian Borscht

The soup that we commonly refer to as Borscht is probably closest to standard Ukrainian Borscht. It typically contains boiled meat or bone broth, cabbage, beet, carrot, onion, sometimes potato, and tomato or tomato paste. However, there are many regional variations of this dish.

Polish Borscht

Polish clear red Borscht is called Barszcz Czysty Czerwony, and is made with strained meat and vegetable stock, strained mushroom broth, and fermented beetroot juice (known as kvas).

Alternatively, there is a Polish clear Borscht recipe typically served during the Polish Christmas Eve supper. This version is made from fish stock instead of meat stock, and the mushrooms are reserved as filling for ear-shaped dumplings, which are served with the soup.

Russian Borscht

The Ukrainian version of this soup is also popular in Russian cuisine. However, there are many regional variations of this dish in Russia. According to Wikipedia, the following are regional Russian variations of this soup:

  • Moscow: Contains pieces of beef, ham, and Vienna sausages
  • Siberian: With meatballs
  • Pskov: Made with dried smelt from the local lakes
  • Monastic Lenten: Contains marinated kelp instead of cabbage
  • Russian Navy: Cut the vegetables into square or diamond-shaped chunks instead of julienning them
russian borscht with beef

More Delicious Beet Recipes

borscht soup in bowl with sour cream and dill

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Classic Borscht Recipe

4.94 from 16 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
The flavor of this classic Borscht recipe is bright and complex, beautifully sweet and sour. The natural sweetness from beets and carrots balance a splash of red wine vinegar added at the end. Beef makes it hearty and filling, and potato and hint of tomato paste add depth and thicken the broth slightly.

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil or avocado oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium beef broth divided
  • 1 3/4 pounds beets (roots only; use the greens for something else), scrubbed and trimmed
  • 4 medium carrots finely chopped
  • 3 large celery ribs diced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large starchy potato such as Russet, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1/2 pound Savoy cabbage thinly sliced into shreds (about 5 cups shredded)
  • 4 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt use a bit less if using fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish if desired
  • Sour cream for garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat; once hot, add the meat in a single layer and cook until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes, flipping once. (You might need to do this in 2 batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan.)
  • Add the bay leaf and 4 cups (.95 L) beef broth, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn heat down to simmer, and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • While the beef cooks, chop all the vegetables. For the beets, shred 1/3 of the beets and finely chop the remaining 2/3. Add the finely chopped beet to the pot; bring back up to a boil, then cover the pot and cook 10 minutes.
  • Add the shredded beet, carrot, celery, onion, potato, cabbage, garlic, salt, black pepper, allspice, tomato paste, and remaining 4 cups beef broth. (The vegetables should be just covered with liquid; you can add water if you need more liquid to cover them.) Cover the pot and bring it back up to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, then turn off the heat and stir in the dill. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
  • To serve, ladle the soup into bowls; top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill.

Video

Notes

  • The Vegetables: For the vegetables for this recipe, I use organic beets, carrots, and potato, and give them a good scrub before using. I don’t peel them because the skin holds a lot of nutrition. (Beets Tip: Look for smaller beets since their skin is more tender.) The potato sort-of melts right into the soup so you will be left with little bits of potato skin, which I didn’t mind at all; however, if you prefer, you can peel the potato.
  • Paleo Version: Omit the sour cream when serving. Some people consider potato paleo, and some don’t; do what’s best for you.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Nutritional Information: The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated without the optional sour cream garnish.

Nutrition

Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1037mg | Potassium: 1822mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 7498IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: Beef Borscht, Beef Borscht Recipe, Beef Borscht Soup, Beet Borscht, Beet Soup, Borsch, Borscht, Borscht Recipe, Borscht Soup, Classic Borscht Recipe, How to Make Borscht, Red Borscht, Russian Borscht, Traditional Borscht Recipe, Ukrainian Borscht, Vegetarian Borscht Soup Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




37 Comments

  1. Very good. I have many cans of dark red kidney beans so, after one bowl I added a can. So beautiful!

  2. 5 stars
    I wanted to make something Russian so I decided on Borscht and found your recipe. I had hardly eaten beets before either. Your recipe was easy to follow and delicious. I was struck by the combination a flavors. Each bite tasted a little different. It was so delightful that I wanted to cry. Thanks.

  3. 5 stars
    This is a good all seasons soup, I made it for mom last weekend! Delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    I have not had borscht in probably 22 years. The last I had it my very good Russian friend made it for me. She served it mayonnaise instead of sourcream but I mixed a little of both Together, like a crema. I went back and forth about Adding the vinegar but it tasted good without it. I took a little ladleful and added a smudge of red wine vinegar and it was great!! I added it to stay true to the recipe. Huge recipe btw! It’s just two of us lol! And I’ll have a borscht-virgin, my husband, at the table. I hope He likes it lol! Thank you! It’s better than my Russian friend’s ;) I could have had a similar dish in Mongolia but it had horse meat in it. Which I could not do. I mean, we were there actually riding horses across the Steppes for 11 days. We are horse people!

  5. We are making tonight ( for chanukah) My husbsnd’s family winter borscht recipe. I have been looking here on the Internet to see different recipes. A lot of them are similar but none of them are like what we make which is a winter style. In our recipe we don’t mix meat with sour cream which some recipes do. When soup is complete we do what is called “farweissening.This is where you siphon off 2 cups of soup and cool to lukewarm. Also cool the rest of the soup to lukewarm. Beat 3 eggs well in a large bowl and add a little salt. Add to the warm 2 cups of soup VERY SLOWLY so eggs do not curdle. Then SLOWLY add this mixture to rest of cooled soup. Soup turns a nice golden color. Add for more taste lemon, salt, sugar, if needed. I could not find this anywhere while I was looking for recipes online; I guarantee you will like it

  6. Brenda Atkinson says:

    5 stars
    This soup is absolutely fabulous. Yum, yum, yum.

  7. 5 stars
    I never gave beets a fair shake before and had never tried borscht either but this is a great recipe and a good winter soup. What I liked best was the flavor from the beef, vinegar, dill combination. Never considered that in a beef broth based soup before. Its a lot of vegetable chopping but well worth it. Thanks!

  8. 4 stars
    I grew up eating Summer Borscht (made with sorrel) and have always wanted to try beet borscht. Made this today and it was really tasty. I did a couple things different…I have a tomato sensitivity so I skipped the tomato paste. I also cooled a little bit of the soup so that I could blend it (made sure not to blend the incredibly tender beef chunks!) so that it would add a little thickness to the broth. I found the sour cream to serve took it from good to great :) Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. Haven’t tried the recipe yet, but en complete it looks scrumptious! I wonder tho if the avocado oil is chosen because it doesn’t corrupt at high temperatures, or for the flavour it imparts?

    1. Nick, Thank you so much for your kind words; I hope you enjoy it if you make it! I used avocado oil because of its high smoke point. Any neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point will work here.

  10. Lyn Davis says:

    Does this recipe freeze well.

      1. 5 stars
        My wife did make this soup in winter most of the time well she got her own recipes, she was russian but yes the soup freeze well and last at lest 6 months or more I always have in my freezer

  11. 5 stars
    I made this recipe today and loved it. It was my first time making borscht. I cook for my 95 year old mother, also, and I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are packed with nutrients and yet easy for her to eat. I pretty much followed the recipe except swapped out ground pork for the beef, added a teaspoon of sugar and used more dill than called for. I was looking at another recipe that called for sugar and that’s where that idea came from, but the recipe seems to be sweet enough and next time I wouldn’t add it next time. Some talked about boiling the beets first, but I chose to roast them for 30 minutes. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

  12. Dena Miller says:

    5 stars
    Delicious. Deep winter calls for a hearty soup such as this.

  13. Anna Kaarina Nenonen says:

    5 stars
    I looked at several bortsch recipes on line, and chose to make yours. It turned out to be a winner, better than anything I have ever eaten in a restaurant! This was the first time that I actually decided to make bortsch at home, but beets are in season, and so is cabbage. It is delightful that such simple ingredients can be key ingredients in something so delicious. Will look into your Indian and Middle-Eastern recipes next. The content of your site is also very insightful and definitely worth reading. Warm greetings from Anna in Helsinki.

  14. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this outstanding recipe! I followed it to the letter and it came out perfect! A friend of mine posted a photo of her borscht on Facebook the other day and it triggered my desire for some. I searched and sifted through many borscht recipes for quite a while until I settled upon your recipe. I never made borscht before and have not had any since my grandmother passed away over 40 years ago. My grandmother used to make cold borscht – I’m guessing because she kept kosher which means not combining meat and dairy. I plan to give your cold borscht recipe a try this summer. I greatly enjoyed this hot borscht recipe and plan to keep it in my meal rotation. Thanks again!

  15. Annebakerim says:

    5 stars
    These recipes are unusual for me, but I prepared this soup, it turned out very tasty, thank you my family is happy.

  16. 5 stars
    Faith, thanks! Very tasty borscht turned out. Very cool photos!

  17. 5 stars
    Faith, thank you very much! I like this soup! Wonderful combination of ingredients. It look so yummy!

  18. This looks really tasty thanks for sharing! What kind of onion would you recommend, or does it matter? Can’t wait to try this at home!

    1. Sam, Thanks so much! I used yellow onion for this; hope you enjoy the recipe if you give it a try!

  19. I cannot wait to eat this on a cold snowy evening like we’re having tonight! Smells wonderful in my kitchen and my husband keeps asking is it ready yet. I ate Borscht almost every night while in Moscow.

  20. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Made it several times now. Thanks so much.

  21. felicia | Dish by Dish says:

    Hi Faith! these photos are gorgeous!

    I’d love to include your Borscht (Russian style beet soup) recipe in a beetroot roundup I’m doing for Parade Magazine. If you’re fine with that, could I use one of your photos with a link back to your original post?

    Let me know, thanks!

  22. Little Cooking Tips says:

    Borscht isn’t common here in Greece. So when we first learned about this delicious dish, we couldn’t get enough of it:) Your version looks amazing Faith! Excellent photography and a very hearty filling version of this Russian classic.
    Superb work!
    Panos and Mirella

  23. angela@spinachtiger says:

    I love borscht. I usually make the vegetarian version, but I’ve had it with beef too and it’s great.

  24. Ash-foodfashionparty says:

    A lovely soup. I just love beets and they make for a beautiful color and a hearty soup.

  25. Blond Duck says:

    It’s such a pretty red!

  26. Chelsey Patti says:

    5 stars
    I love Borscht- I can’t wait to try your version!

  27. When I was growing up, we had soup for every Sunday lunch. Borscht was one of the regular soups on the short list. Even now as an adult, I make borscht at least twice a month. I love the sweetness of the beets and the truly lovely color it makes. My recipe is a little different — I make the stock from the beef meat/bones — into the boiling liquid, I add onion, carrot, and a tablespoon or two of PICKLING SPICE, plus a dried red pepper or two. I usually just throw the pickling spice into the liquid and strain it out afterwards. Instead of the tomato paste, I use a can or two of diced tomatoes. The veggies are all just chopped up (sometimes I just wash them and don’t bother with the peeling)in equal sizes. I like the veggies to just be on the edge of cooked, with a little crunch. Sometimes I add the meat, diced, back into the soup (makes a full meal) and sometimes I reserve it for other uses. I never add the vinegar to the pot, but rather leave it to each person to add to their own taste. But it does need vinegar to be at its absolute best. It is absolutely my favorite soup. I usually make a huge pot, and freeze about half of it into serving size dishes — it’s a tasty filling lunch for work or even a low-calorie snack on a cold evening. Suggest you all try it this soup.

  28. Well this is ‘mother’s milk’ for me as I have had it and cooked it ‘forever’! Up in the conservative north of Europe without the garlic, allspice or tomato paste :) ! Am willing to try all three!!!

  29. Jennifer Cote says:

    Love it, Faith! Your version looks delicious too- I hadn’t thought of adding tomato paste, but it seems like it would work :D

  30. Faith, this is the perfect Fall soup – I’ve got beets and cabbage from my CSA Box. Beautiful color!

  31. Amy (Savory Moments) says:

    Faith your Borscht looks so delicious! I never had it before until I made it last year and now it’s become a favorite of ours — I’ve got a bunch of fresh beets and cabbage, so I’m making it this weekend.

  32. Sounds like a really interesting combination of flavors. I’ve never heard of a beet soup!

  33. Wonderful! This is a refined soup I very much like and yours looks very tempting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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