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    Classic Borscht Recipe

    Today I am sharing an iconic soup recipe out of the Slavic region. Borscht! It’s a classic, hearty soup made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and sometimes meats, known for its beautiful bright color from the beetroot. This is an authentic Borscht recipe, which I got from my friend’s Ukrainian grandmother. Learn how to make Ukrainian Borscht with the easy step-by-step method.

    Bowlful of borscht served with sour cream and dill.

    I was always intrigued by Borscht. It looks so pretty with its bright reddish-pink color, and I wondered how this soup would taste. While having lunch with my friend, we got talking about food from Russia and Ukraine, and Borscht kept coming back into the conversation. It’s such a beloved soup for many, and they are very passionate when it comes to cooking Borscht.

    There are probably as many borscht recipes out there as there are cooks. Each one adds their own twist, making it uniquely their own.

    Now my friend’s grandma has been cooking this soup for years and perfected it, from making the broth from scratch with the help of some meats, to adding different veggies to the pot at the correct time.

    All these small little tips help make a superb soup at the end of a few hours. Oh yes, borscht is the ultimate labor of love. But one sip into these new flavors, and I bet you will be hooked.

    Close up overhead shot of this classic Ukrainian beet soup.

    What is Borscht?

    Borscht is a hearty soup that comes from Eastern Europe, especially popular in countries like Ukraine, Russia, and Poland. I was curious about its origin and found out that many people claim it as their own. The origin of borscht is often traced back to Ukraine, though many believe it’s as much Russian as it is Ukrainian.

    When I was pronouncing it as Borscht with “t” at the end, my friend told me how to say it like a local. “Borsh,” where the “t” at the end is silent. Hmm… how cool.

    The star of borscht is beets, which give it that famous deep red color. But, depending on where it’s made, you might also find ingredients like cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, and meats like beef or pork.

    Borscht has a long history, and it’s like a mix-and-match of different flavors depending on where it’s from. At first, borscht was a clever way for people to use whatever food they have on hand to cook up a big pot of soup that could feed everyone. Over time, it became an iconic national dish of Ukraine, cooked lovingly for friends and family and for special occasions.

    Today’s Borscht recipe has all the tips and tricks to make the most delicious and vibrant bowl you can ever make. My friend even taught me how to serve this soup very traditionally, in a very unique way.

    Bowl of borscht against a white background.

    Ingredients Needed

    Beef: I am using short ribs today, to make a nice and flavorful broth as a base. Here, the meat becomes tender and falls off the bone after slow cooking. You can also use any meat with bones like pork ribs, pork necks or even chuck roast. The cook time for different meats will be different.

    Onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and peppercorns: They are classic flavor enhancers for the broth. They’re removed after the broth is made, as their main role is to flavor it. Sautéed onion and carrot also goes in the soup.

    Beets: The star of borscht, beets give the soup its iconic vibrant red color and distinctive flavor. I grated the beet, but some people dice them into small cubes. I recommend using hand gloves while grating beets to avoid bright red stains on your fingers and nails.

    Cabbage: Adds a slight crunch and sweetness.

    Tomato paste, sugar and vinegar: These ingredients balance the sweetness of the vegetables with acidity, giving a slight tang to the soup.

    Dill and parsley: I absolutely ask you to go heavy on the dill for this soup. It’s a major flavor booster for that authentic taste.

    Garlic: Used both chopped and sliced. It’s very peculiar that they add sliced garlic in last few minutes of cook time to retain the garlic flavor.

    Salt and Pepper: To taste.

    Ukrainian Borscht Recipe

    Make the Broth: Combine short ribs, quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and water in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.

    Short ribs, celery, carrot and onion in a dutch oven.

    Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, covered, for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the meat falls off the bones easily. Skim off any scum that rises to the top during the first few minutes of cooking.

    Prepare the Vegetables While the Broth Simmers: In a pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil and sauté diced onion for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped garlic and grated carrot. Sauté until they start to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

    Carrot and onion cooking in a pan.

    In the same pan, add another Tbsp of oil and sauté the grated beets with sugar, ½ Tbsp vinegar, and tomato paste for 12-15 minutes until tender. Set aside.

    Shredded beet cooking in a pan.

    Combine Ingredients: Once the broth is ready, remove the short ribs, discard the bones, and shred the meat into big chunks.

    Shredded beef on a plate.

    Discard the cooked vegetables and strain the broth. Bring the strained broth to a boil again, add back in beef along with potato chunks, and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add the sautéed onion and carrot mixture, shredded cabbage, salt, and pepper, cooking for 10 minutes.

    Broth simmering with meat and shredded cabbage.

    Stir in the beet mixture and simmer again for 7-8 minutes.

    Shredded beets being added to the soup.

    Finish the Borscht: Add 2 Tbsp vinegar, chopped dill, parsley, and sliced garlic, simmering for an additional 2 minutes. Adjust salt and vinegar to taste.

    Garlic and herbs being added to the pot.

    Now, here are some good tips I got from my beloved Ukrainian grandma (yes, I am in love with her after that one sip, and am going to ask her to adopt me to teach all her wonderful cooking).

    She said try using meats in your Borscht, as it gives so much flavor to the broth and those tender meats are great in this soup. Saying this, you can make vegetarian version of Borscht by simply omitting the meat and using readymade stock.

    Large pot full of borscht.

    Add the veggies at the intervals as mentioned, so as not to make them mushy. Adding beets in he later part of cooking time helps retain their vibrant color.

    Let your borscht sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. It’s very important to be patient, and you will be rewarded. In fact, some wise person has said that you want to eat “tomorrow’s Borscht”, meaning there is nothing like a leftover borscht the next day. All the flavors are doubly bold and delicious after sitting overnight in the fridge.

    Bowl of leftover borscht.

    Now this grandma tip is the traditional Ukrainian way to eat Borscht. Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream (apparently no one even think of having one without it), and a good dose of dill, and fresh thin slices of garlic. Yes, garlic.

    So, if you ask me what Borscht tastes like? Let me think… It’s like a mix of sweet and tangy with a bit of earthiness from the beets. The sour cream on top makes it creamy and smooth, the dill and garlic together adds very unique Slavic flavors. Not too strong, but just right.

    I also like my bowl with some crusty bread, perfect for dipping and soaking up the delicious soup. Rye bread is a popular choice, especially in Eastern European cuisines. Pumpernickel, another type of dark, dense rye bread, is also a great option.

    And there you have it, my version of a cozy, comforting bowl of borscht, with a little help of one Ukrainian grandma!! I was super excited to make our first Ukrainian recipe for GypsyPlate, and was amazed by the venturing into all these new flavors. That’s why I love my job, and will do my best to bring all these flavors from my kitchen to yours.

    Borscht, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of borscht atop the Gypsy Plate.
    Featured image for borscht recipe.

    Classic Borscht Recipe

    Yield: 8-10 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
    Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

    This Borscht recipe is an Eastern European classic, featuring very unique flavors thanks to the addition of shredded beet root.


    Borscht Broth

    • 1.5 pounds beef short ribs (see note)
    • ¼ large onion, cut into quarters
    • 1 carrot, cut into big chunks
    • 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 6-7 black peppercorns
    • 1 Tbsp salt
    • 12 cups water


    • 2 Tbsp oil, divided
    • 1 medium onion, diced small
    • 2 cloves garlic chopped + 3-4 cloves garlic sliced
    • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
    • 2 large beets, peeled and grated
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2.5 Tbsp white vinegar, divided
    • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 3 medium Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
    • 5 cups shredded cabbage
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
    • sour cream, to serve


    1. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine short ribs, onion, carrot chunks, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and water.
    2. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove the scum that floats to the top with a spoon several times in the beginning.
    3. While the broth is simmering, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and sauté diced onion for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped garlic and grated carrot and sauté till the carrot starts to soften up, about 6-8 minutes. Plate it out.
    4. In the same pan, add 1 Tbsp more oil and sauté grated beets for 4-5 minutes. Add sugar, ½ Tbsp white vinegar, and tomato paste and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the beats are tender. You will add this this to the soup pot later.
    5. Once the Borscht stock is done, remove the short ribs. Discard the bones and shred the meat into big chunks. Discard the vegetables and strain the beef broth.
    6. Bring the beef broth to a boil again and add back in beef along with potatoes. Let it simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes.
    7. Add the sautéed onion and carrot mixture along with shredded cabbage, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
    8. Add grated beet mixture and let it simmer again for 7-8 minutes.
    9. Stir in 2 Tbsp white vinegar along with chopped dill, parsley and sliced garlic, and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and vinegar.
    10. Let it sit at least for 30 minutes to meld all the flavors. Serve with fresh dill, a few garlic slices and a dollop of sour cream.


    1. You can use a mix of beef and pork with cuts like chuck and pork ribs.
    2. Leftovers and Storing: As said before, it tastes even better the next few days. Cool the borscht to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply thaw frozen borscht in the fridge overnight if frozen.
      Reheat gently on the stove over medium heat until warm.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 10 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 332Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 69mgSodium 854mgCarbohydrates 22gFiber 4gSugar 6gProtein 21g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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