Borscht is a simple, nourishing, and nutritious soup (or stew!) that doesn’t take too long to whip up. The primary ingredient is beetroot, which is cooked with a bunch of other vegetables (traditionally root vegetables) in beef stock, and then blitzed to make the smooth soup we all know and love!
While Ukraine and Russia have long debated who can claim borscht, I’m pretty sure borscht has claimed hearts all over the world. This simple but mind-blowingly delicious soup is my go-to when I want a soup that’s the right mix of indulgent and healthy, regardless of what time of the year it is.
Borscht also keeps extremely well in the fridge and freezer, which means that with one batch, I’m sorted for at least the next couple of days.
If you now have a craving for this beautiful, vibrant dish and want to try your hand at cooking it, here’s everything you need from start to finish!
- 2 large Celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 Red onions, finely chopped
- A large Carrot, finely chopped (if possible, use purple carrots as these enhance the beautiful color of the soup)
- 2 Garlic cloves crushed or you could also finely slice them
- 750 grams Raw beetroot, peeled and chopped, we’re looking for cubes about a third of an inch long; also, make sure that you have 750 grams after trimming your beets
- Waxy potato finely diced (these hold their shape better than starchy potatoes)
- 2 Tomatoes, skinned, cored, and chopped
- 1/2 Purple cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 litre Beef stock, for a vegetarian version, you can replace this with vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil or vegetable oil, you can also be indulgent and add about 15 grams of butter to this equation—there’s no denying that butter makes everything better!5 tablespoons of vodka (this is optional, but I highly recommend adding this ingredient!)
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Set aside a tablespoon of dill and about 50 grams of feta cheese or a bit of sour cream to garnish your borscht.
- In a deep saucepan, heat up the oil and butter, if you’re using it.
- Once heated, add the carrot, onions, and celery. Cook these veggies, with the lid on, for about 8-10 minutes over a medium flame. By the end of the eighth or tenth minute, your veggies should have softened.
- Once the carrot, celery, and onion have cooked enough, add in the beetroot and potato and continue cooking for another 8-10 minutes, with the lid on.
- Then, add the garlic, browning it lightly before adding the stock, replacing the lid, and bringing this to a light boil. Here’s where you can also taste the liquid and season with salt and pepper as required.
- Let the mixture simmer for the next 30 or 40 minutes. Halfway through this, at the 15-minute mark, add the cabbage and tomatoes.
- By the end of the 40 minutes, we want the beetroot to get soft enough to squash with the back of a teaspoon, without much effort.
- After the mixture has simmered, it’s now time to add the vodka!
- Traditionally, fermented hogweed stems were added to borscht, which gave it a lovely pickled flavour that tasted like the love child of sauerkraut and beer. A shot of iced vodka also accompanied borscht—it was believed that vodka would enhance the aroma and color of borscht.
- To replicate these (though not to the original extent), I add vodka to my borscht. (And of course, vodka is a no-brainer given the Russian roots in the family!)
- Once you’ve added the vodka, let your borscht cook for five minutes longer, uncovered.
- Then, take the pan off the heat, let it sit for five minutes, and then straight to the blitzer/blender/liquidiser/processor. To achieve that silky smooth texture, I find that blitzing the soup in batches works best. However, you can also choose to skip the blitzing and drink the soup as is.
- Once you have all your borscht blitzed (if you’re choosing to blitz it), garnish with dill and feta/sour cream.
- Borscht stores well in the fridge for up to three days. Make sure you cool it completely, cover it, and then put it in the fridge. You can also freeze it in a tightly sealed container and preserve it for three months.
- When you want to consume it, let it thaw and then reheat it, over a low flame, on the stove (reheating isn’t necessary if you want a cold soup).
- You can easily make this a vegetarian recipe by replacing the beef stock with vegetable stock. You can also make it vegan by skipping the butter and using vegan sour cream instead of feta or regular sour cream.
- If you don’t want to add vodka, you can simply skip it.
What Is the Difference between Russian And Ukrainian Borscht?
There’s long been a raging debate about whether borscht is Ukrainian or Russian. While both countries have their own versions and consider this dish a staple, Ukraine is often cited as the soup’s place of origin.
As far as my research has shown, the Russian and Ukrainian versions of borscht are mostly the same, with some varying ingredients.
Is Eating Borscht Healthy?
Borscht is believed to be quite healthy, with its nutrients leading to better blood cleansing, enhanced liver, heart, and stomach health, and a reduction in blood pressure.
Is Borscht Supposed To Be Hot Or Cold?
Borscht is extremely flexible and versatile and can be hot, cold, vegetarian, vegan, light, meaty, or laden with dairy. You can eat it as a soup, a stew, or even a cold gazpacho—it’s delicious in any form and at any temperature!
What Goes With Borscht for Dinner?
Traditionally, borscht is eaten hot with small stuffed pastries known as piroshki or pirogi. These can be stuffed with cheese, minced meat, or vegetables. It goes just as well with a shot of iced vodka and just sour cream, though!
Borscht is not only easy but extremely forgiving, in addition to being supremely adaptable. You’ll find a million different recipes for the dish, though the base remains the same. Feel free to keep the base, throw in whatever else you want for your own version of the stew/soup, and make it your own.