A picture of borscht soup next to two beetroot

What Is & How to Make Borscht

Origin: Ukraine, Eastern Europe

Type: Soup

Main Flavours: Beetroot (Beet)

About Borscht

Borscht is a sour soup usually made with meat stock (but can of course be vegetarian!), vegetables and seasonings. It is most common in Eastern Europe, and is most well known for its Ukrainian variant made with red beetroot that gives it a striking red colour.

What Zsófi Says About Borscht:

Perhaps one of the most well-known Eastern European exports is this sour beetroot soup, originating (most likely) from the country of Ukraine. Like much of the Eastern European cuisine, Borscht also started out as a staple peasant food that prioritises filling you up over giving you a luxurious culinary experience. 

It started as a simple soup which could be prepared by boiling the stalks or leaves of any plant around you. As its popularity grew, new ingredients were added to the simple broth. Green borscht was made by the addition of sorrel while white borscht featured barley and rye flour. 

Borscht reached the height of its fame during the Soviet times, where it became almost an essential part of Eastern European identity. Nowadays, in many households, borscht isn’t borscht without the beetroot that lends it its striking magenta colour. A traditional Ukrainian borscht could now be prepared using the ingredients of beetroot, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, dill, and bay leaves, salt, and pepper to season. Of course, in more traditional recipes, meat also features, usually pork with fat, but vegetarian versions have been a part of the Borscht culture almost just as long.

Read Zsófi’s full guide to Eastern European food!

Borscht Recipe

Borscht Ingredients

2 large beetroots, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups beef or vegetable broth

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Sour cream, for serving

Fresh dill, chopped, for garnish

Borscht Instructions

Once all of the vegetables have been prepared as per the list of ingredients, you can go ahead and start cooking!

Begin with sauteing the aromatics: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent (usually around five minutes). Add the minced garlic and then cook for another couple of minutes.

Stir in the grated beetroots and carrots. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften.

Next pour in the beef or vegetable broth and add the diced potatoes. Slowly bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Once the potatoes are almost cooked, add the shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes (with all the juice), and bay leaf to the pot. Stir well, then cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.

Before serving, season the soup with sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the red wine vinegar to add a touch of acidity and balance the flavours.

To serve, ladle the borscht into bowls and top each one with a dollop of sour cream and some freshly chopped dill.

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