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Packed with vegetables and layered with flavor, this Vegetarian Borscht recipe is a delicious, hearty, and nutritious meal.

top view of vegetable borscht on wooden table

I’m a beet lover from way back. One of my favorite vegetable side dishes that my mom used to make growing up was boiled beets, served with butter and salt. They were so good!

If you enjoy beets, you will absolutely love Borscht. Not only is it flavorful and delicious, but it’s so pretty. All the vegetables and the broth turn a beautiful deep red color thanks to the beets.

What Makes This Vegetarian Borscht Recipe Special

If you like beets, you’re going to love Borscht! I like to think of Borscht soup as a celebration of beets. However, in addition to beets, this soup is loaded with a variety of other vegetables, including cabbage, onion, carrot, and I also add celery.

Also, my Vegetarian Borscht recipe includes a single starchy potato. The potato disintegrates into the soup, and gives the broth a rich, velvety texture. 

A little bit of tomato paste also adds volume to the broth.

To keep this soup vegetarian, I used vegetable stock. Just be sure to use a rich, flavorful vegetable stock! Additionally, if keeping this dish vegetarian isn’t a concern, feel free to use chicken or beef stock for richer flavor.

front view of bowls with traditional borscht soup

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

  • Beets – Beets are the star of the show! You’ll need about 1 pound (or 3 medium-sized) beets for this recipe.
  • Olive oil – We cook down the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. This adds a bit of richness and depth of flavor. Instead of olive oil, you can use any type of oil or rendered fat (if keeping this vegetarian isn’t a concern) that you have on hand.
  • Vegetable stock – You can use homemade stock or a good quality store-bought vegetable stock. If keeping this soup vegan isn’t a concern, you can use chicken stock or beef stock for richer flavor.
  • Red cabbage – I used red cabbage; however, red or green cabbage will work well here.
  • Carrot – Carrot adds a subtle earthy sweetness to our soup that mirrors the beets well.
  • Celery – Celery is optional here; I add it to get in another vegetable, but you won’t be able to notice it too much in the end result.
  • Potato – Use a starchy potato (such as Russet) here, so that it disintegrates into the soup and helps thicken it slightly.
  • Tomato paste – Just a touch of tomato paste adds another layer of flavor and helps create a velvety mouthfeel to the broth.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple seasonings make sure our soup isn’t bland.
  • Allspice – I always add a touch of allspice to red Borscht, whether the recipe has meat or not. Allspice elevates the flavor and adds a unique complexity to this soup that you can’t put your finger on. (I also include a hint of allspice in my Polish Dill Pickle Soup!)
  • Fresh lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice does 2 things to this soup: 1) helps to balance the sweetness of beets, and 2) adds a touch of citrusy tanginess that wakes up the flavor of everything else. You can use about half as much red or white wine vinegar if you don’t have fresh lemon on hand.
  • Dill – Dill adds a lovely fresh, bright flavor to this soup.

Instructions

  1. For the beets, peel them and trim off both ends. Dice 2 beets and shred 1 beet, keeping the chopped beet separate from the shredded beet (because they get added at different times).
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a 5-quart pot. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the stock and cabbage and bring it up to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook 10 minutes.
  4. Add the diced beet. Bring back up to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook 10 minutes.
  5. Add the shredded beet, carrot, celery, potato, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and allspice. Bring back up to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and dill.
  7. Taste and add additional salt and lemon juice if desired.
  8. Serve the soup along with fresh lemon wedges and more dill on top.

Tips

  • As written, this recipe is vegan. For richer flavor, you can use tallow (rendered beef fat) or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead of olive oil, and beef stock or chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.
  • If you want to reduce the carbs a little bit, you can skip the potato in this dish. The broth will be a bit thinner and not have as silky a mouthfeel.
  • Fresh dill and beetroot is a classic combination in a lot of Eastern European recipes. However, if dill isn’t your thing, you can swap it out for another herb, such as tarragon, chervil, or parsley.
  • Vinegar is a common addition to Borscht. However, I use lemon juice here because I wanted to keep this soup Passover-friendly without any modifications. Of course you could use red wine vinegar if you prefer, or look for a vinegar that’s certified kosher for Passover to use instead of lemon juice. If you are making this soup for Passover, be sure that your vegetable stock is kosher for Passover if you’re not using homemade vegetable stock.

Storage

Once the soup is cool, you can store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

2 white bowls with vegetarian borscht

Vegetarian Borscht Recipe FAQs

What Do Beets Taste Like?

Beets have an earthy, sweet flavor.

Because of their natural sweetness, I like to balance their flavor with a couple other ingredients. A touch of salt and some kind of acid (such as fresh lemon juice) are a great way counterbalance beets!

What Does Borscht Taste Like?

The flavor of beets is predominant in traditional red Borscht soup. It has an earthy sweetness, which is balanced with acid from fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar.

Don’t forget to season this soup with salt, which helps create a balanced flavor profile and pull out the flavor of everything else.

Is Borscht Eaten Hot or Cold?

There are several different types of Borscht. Some are eaten hot, while other variations are eaten cold.

I have another recipe for Borscht that includes meat, and it’s served hot.

Additionally, I have a recipe for Polish Cold Beet Soup (Chłodnik) that’s a refreshing chilled version of Borscht, and perfect for cooling down with during warm weather.

Is Borscht Russian or Ukrainian?

Like so many foods, there is a lot of nationalism pertaining to this Eastern European soup, with multiple different countries claiming to be the origin. There are several different and very interesting points on this debate. For instance, when Borscht was invented, the area of the Ukraine that it’s said to be from was part of Russia at that time.

I’ve frequently heard it said that what we think of as Borscht soup originated from the Ukraine.

Is There a “T” in Borscht?

The letter T that Western countries put at the end of the word Borscht is actually not in the original word. The word in Russian and Ukrainian is better transliterated as Borsch (without the T).

However, the characters of Russian and Ukrainian languages are different than English letters. Characters in these languages make a sound of a few different letters put together – i.e., they sound like words, not single letters – similar to the sound of characters in the Arabic language, and unlike the English language where our letters stand alone.

The characters at the end of the word Borsch and have a similar sound to T, hence the reason for the transliteration Borscht.

More Beets Recipes to Try

healthy traditional borscht recipe

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Vegetarian Borscht Recipe

Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Yields: 10 servings
Packed with vegetables and layered with flavor, this Vegetarian Borscht recipe is a delicious, hearty, and nutritious meal.

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Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound beetroot (about 3 medium-sized beets)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 6 cups thinly chopped red cabbage
  • 4 medium carrots sliced
  • 4 large celery ribs diced
  • 1 starchy potato such as Russet, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or more if desired
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill plus more for garnish

Instructions
 

  • For the beets, peel them and trim off both ends. Dice 2 beets and shred 1 beet, keeping the chopped beet separate from the shredded beet (because they get added at different times).
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a 5-quart pot. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the stock and cabbage and bring it up to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook 10 minutes.
  • Add the diced beet. Bring back up to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook 10 minutes.
  • Add the shredded beet, carrot, celery, potato, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and allspice. Bring back up to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and dill.
  • Taste and add additional salt and lemon juice if desired.
  • Serve along with fresh lemon wedges and more dill on top.

Video

Notes

  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Vinegar is a common addition to Borscht. However, I use lemon juice because I wanted to keep this soup Passover-friendly without any modifications. Of course you could use red wine vinegar if you prefer, or look for a vinegar that’s certified kosher for Passover to use instead of lemon juice. If you are making this soup for Passover, be sure that your vegetable stock is kosher for Passover if you’re not using homemade vegetable stock.
  • Topping Idea: Sour cream is a delicious topping for this soup.
  • To Bump Up the Protein: To make this soup a filling meal with a little more protein and still keep it vegetarian, you can serve it topped with poached egg or hard-boiled egg.
  • If Keeping This Soup Vegetarian Isn’t a Concern: You can use chicken or beef stock instead of vegetable stock.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1081mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5173IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

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

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: Borscht Soup, Vegetarian Borscht, Vegetarian Borscht Recipe, 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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One Comment

  1. ANASTASIA says:

    Borsch is dish number ONE for any Ukrainian. It’s the first meal a mom teaches her daughter to cook. It’s the dish every woman aims to have a special signature. I do it my mom’s way, she did it her mother’s way, the grandma did it her mother’s way….it’s what sons usually miss about their moms’ cooking…. thank you for sharing this recipe with the world.
    Much love form a Ukrainian lady living in Saudi Arabia

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