Borsch is a Russian beet soup made with root vegetables like beetroot and carrots, beans and meat, nourishing broth, and finished with green cabbage. Traditional Russian borscht is a labor of love, but with my tips and tricks, you will learn how to make borscht in 40 minutes that's still flavorful, nourishing, and provides perfect comfort on chilly days.
Traditional Russian borscht can be a time-intensive endeavor, depending on the cook. And every family has their version of it, with their babushka adding her special touch to a pot of rich ruby goodness. And just as all families are different, so are all borsh recipes. This one is mine.
This borsch recipe is made in one pot and takes about 30-40 minutes, from start to finish. It may look intimidating because of the vast amount of ingredients, but once you get into the rhythm of making this Russian soup, you'll see how simple and easy this version is.
So what is the key to getting deeply flavored borsh in such a short time? Having broth and cooked meat ready to go. Broth is the most time-consuming ingredient and you have the option of using chicken broth or beef bone broth. But even if you don't have this golden elixir, I'll show you how to make it with beef stew meat using this simple meat broth recipe.
Why You'll Love This Borscht Recipe
Healthy soup - Rich in magnesium, potassium, fiber, iron, vitamins A, B, and C, and not to mention all the beta-carotene found in carrots and beets. It's the perfect comfort food when the flu and cold season kicks in.
Quick to make - This borscht recipe comes together in under 40 minutes, provided that you have broth and cooked meat on hand.
Customize to preferences - There's so much flavor in borsch that it's easy to omit or replace an ingredient to suit your taste preferences and dietary restrictions.
Traditional food from Slavic countries - Borsch is a such a classic. Whether you're wanting to make a Russian cuisine or a Ukrainian dish, borsch is a great way to tap into that.
💭Fun Fact: Borsh, borsch, or borscht - which one is the correct spelling? Well, they all refer to the same traditional soup from Eastern Europe, but the spelling varies depending on the region. The most important thing to know is that these 3 terms, although have different spellings, are used interchangeably. Here's a quick breakdown: Borsh: A simplified version of the word "борщ" but doesn't accurately represent the pronunciation in Russian or Ukrainian, where the soup is originally from. Borsch: This is the more correct phonetic representation of how the word "борщ" is pronounced in Russia and Ukraine. Borscht: This is another common English version and is often associated with the Yiddish or Jewish version of the soup.
Ingredients for Borsch
Learn how to make borscht with main ingredients that are readily available to you at your local farmers markets or grocery store. This simple recipe comes together in 40 minutes if you have meat broth ready and just a little over an hour if you don't.
- Meat: Use your favorite quick-cooking meat like beef stew or boneless chicken to make a quick batch of meat broth. You'll add the aromatics like bay leaves, peppercorns, and season with salt. But to keep this recipe truly under 40 minutes, I prefer to have meat broth made separately a day prior.
- Mirepoix vegetables: yellow onion, carrots, beetroot, and garlic are sauteed to develop flavor.
- Tomato products: There's so much flexibility with this but I prefer crushed tomatoes and chunky tomato salsa. It adds incredible flavor.
- Beans: These aren't necessary but add a nice hearty element and a boost of protein and fiber.
- Potatoes: Russet potatoes are a classic choice, but I have used Yukon gold potatoes in the past, and it has been delicious.
- Green cabbage: Shredded cabbage is added at the end for a delicious crunch.
- Fresh herbs: Chopped fresh dill or dried parsley adds a pop of color and a welcoming herbaceous flavor. I think this is the most important ingredient in making great borsch.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Additional veggies - Celery wasn't part of my childhood growing up in Russia, but it can easily be added to the mirepoix when making borsh. You can also add diced bell peppers or cut them into quarters like I do and add them along with the potatoes. The peppers impart so much flavor to the brothy soup.
- Make it spicy - Kick it up by adding a few teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce to the tomato-based sauce. Or add a few splashes of the brine from fermented jalapenos.
- Mix and match the tomato sauce - There is so much flexibility here. Feel free to use tomato paste, ketchup, blender salsa, tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, or even tomato juice - anything goes. I bet even fermented salsa would add a nice tang to the soup (I would add it towards the end, though).
- Options for meat - I'm not a fan of vegetarian borscht because I believe getting adequate protein is essential, and you won't get that with just a variety of vegetables and beans. The good news is that you have so many options. Ideally, you will have meat and broth when following my meat broth recipe, but if not, you can use leftover meat from roast chicken, air fryer duck, or spatchcock turkey.
Make it Nutrient Dense
Staying true to the heart of what Prepare and Nourish is all about, there are ways to ensure you get the maximum nutrition in this soup recipe. You can take purposeful steps to turn this into a nutrient-dense meal.
Healing diet compliant. If you are working to heal your gut, this soup is an excellent meal, but you will have to make slight modifications. The beans can easily be omitted if you are on GAPS or paleo (or use cannellini beans if tolerated on GAPS). Additionally, I have made borsch with yams, celeriac root, or even squash to make it Whole30. In other words, think of borsh as a blank canvas to add whatever ingredients are nourishing to you.
Use heat-stable fat. Whether you're browning meat to make meat stock or sauteeing the root vegetables in mirepoix, it's important that you use a healthy fat. Beef tallow, chicken schmaltz, or pork lard are all great options and are key ingredients in authentic Russian borscht recipes. But you can also use avocado oil or olive oil.
How to Make Borscht
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for the best results.
The recipe for this hearty Russian soup is very straightforward. Make the mirepoix, cook the potatoes in simmering broth, and finish off with cabbage - and it all comes together in one pot. Cooking borsch doesn't have to be overwhelming. Follow these tips and tricks, and you'll have a pot of hearty traditional beet soup in no time.
Make meat broth first (you can skip steps 1 and 2 if you follow this meat stock recipe)
Step 1. Brown meat
Sear the cut meat in beef tallow, avocado oil, or butter until browned over medium-high heat. Flip and cook the other side. Searing the meat adds a ton of flavor to the soup.
Step 2. Simmer broth
Add peeled and halved onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt, and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Gently simmer until meat is cooked through.
💭Pro tip: Once meat has cooked until tender, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain meat broth through a strainer.
Step 3. Prepare mirepoix
Dice the onions, julienne carrots and red beets, and minced garlic. Meanwhile, heat the cooking fat for a couple of minutes in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Step 4. Saute
Add diced onions, julienned beets and carrots and cook until softened and onion is translucent. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant.
Step 5. Add tomato sauce
Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce or salsa and stir to combine. Continue to cook until slightly thickened and uniform.
Step 6. Pour broth
Add the broth to the pot and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium for a gentle simmer. Halfway through the potatoes cooking, add beans and meat.
Step 7. Finishing touches
Turn off the heat and add shredded cabbage and chopped herbs. Stir to combine. Cover the pot to let the flavors meld.
Step 8. Serve
Serve immediately or let it rest to really let the flavors come together. This hearty soup is great with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread.
Helpful Tips for Borsh
Timing matters - Adding beans and meat towards the end of the cooking helps to avoid overcooking the meat and prevents it from becoming dry and rubbery.
Let it rest - The great thing about borscht is that it tastes better with time - yesterday's borscht is better than fresh. Try it both ways to see which one you like best.
Time-saving tip - Freshly shredded cabbage is a key ingredient in making the best borscht, but you can use coleslaw mix in a pinch. Be sure to add it towards the end of cooking time so it still has a crunch.
No fresh beets? - No problem. You can use cooked beets and add them at the end along with beet juice to save time peeling and cutting them. Besides, you avoid getting your hands stained red.
💭Meal Prep Suggestion: To meal prep borsch, double the batch and portion into individual freezer-safe containers and refrigerate or freeze them for convenient, ready-to-eat meals throughout the week.
Tools & Links to Make Borsh
Below are some affiliate links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store, but having a link helps you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, mesh strainer, large stainless steel pot, 7-quart Dutch oven
- Ingredients: unrefined sea salt, black pepper, avocado oil, olive oil, dried parsley, whole black peppercorns, bay leaves
Authentic Russian borscht is served with a dollop of sour cream, whole garlic cloves and green onions dipped in coarse salt and freshly baked rye bread.
Ukrainian borscht also has a secret pairing that is absolutely delicious. It's often served with "salo," cured pork fat or pork fatback. Salo is salted and aged and pairs wonderfully with beef borscht as the variety of vegetables cut through the richness of the cured pork fat.
But a simple serving of cultured sour cream and optional sourdough bread will suffice. Either way, this delicious beet soup has a special place in my heart and will in yours too. With its beautiful ruby-red color and lots of health benefits, this soup will become a regular in no time.
Borsch pairing suggestions
Storage and Reheating Instructions
How long does borsch last in the refrigerator?
To store: Homemade borsch can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. If the borsch accumulates a fat cap at the top (coagulated fat) it may preserve it for longer.
To freeze: Let the borsch cool to room temperature, then portion it into airtight containers, leaving a little space at the top for expansion. Place the containers in the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Keep in mind, the texture of the potatoes may be slightly affected after freezing and thawing but it will still be delicious.
To reheat: Transfer borsch to a small saucepan and reheat over medium-high heat until warmed through, stirring frequently. Avoid reheating repeatedly, as that will taint the borsh and shorten shelf life.
Yes! Saute onions, carrots, and other mirepoix ingredients in the inner pot of your pressure cooker, then add the rest of the ingredients, minus the meat, cabbage, and herbs. Cover the pressure cooker and turn the safety valve to seal position. Set the pressure cooker to manual (or high pressure) and adjust the time to 6 minutes. After the cooking time, do a quick pressure release and carefully open the lid. Press the saute function and add the meat, cabbage, and herbs and heat until warmed through.
My version of borscht doesn't call for an acid like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. But if that is your personal preference, you may do so at the end of the cooking. Adding an acid balances the sweetness in the red beets. It also preserves a deep red color often associated with red borscht. I prefer to add a fermented brine from fermented jalapenos, sauerkraut, or pico de Gallo for extra nutrition and flavor.
While beets are a defining ingredient in traditional Russian borscht recipe, you can make variations of the soup without them. Simply omit them. However, this will result in a slightly different flavor profile and appearance.
Looking for more delicious soup recipes? Here are some ideas:
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Borscht Recipe - Easy 40-minute Russian Beet Soup
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 white onion diced
- 2 carrots julienned or shredded
- 1 beetroot julienned or shredded
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce or salsa
For the Borsch
- 4 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 4 quarts broth meat broth or bone broth
- 2 cups leftover cooked meat chicken, pork, or beef
- 3 cups shredded cabbage ¼ head of small cabbage
- ½ cup fresh parsley or dill finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Saute mirepoix: Heat cooking fat in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add diced onions, carrots, and beets and cook until softened, approximately 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes: Pour in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce or salsa and stir to combine and continue to cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.
- Potatoes: Add the broth to the pot and peeled and diced potatoes. Increase the heat to medium-high heat and bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Then reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, approximately 5 minutes.
- Beans and meat: Midway through the potatoes cooking, add the beans and meat and stir to combine to help move the heat around them.
- Cabbage: When the potatoes are tender, take the borsch off the heat. Add shredded cabbage and chopped dill or parsley and stir to combine. Close the lid for five minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Serve: Enjoy borsch hot with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs.
- Timing matters - Adding beans and meat towards the end of the cooking helps to avoid overcooking the meat and prevents it from becoming dry and rubbery.
- Let it rest - The great thing about borscht is that it tastes better with time - yesterday's borscht is better than fresh. Try it both ways to see which one you like best.
- Time-saving tip - Freshly shredded cabbage is a key ingredient in the best borscht, but you can use coleslaw mix in a pinch. But be sure to add it towards the end of cooking time so it still has a crunch to it.
- No fresh beets? - No problem. You can use cooked beets and add them at the end along with beet juice to save time peeling and cutting them. Besides, you avoid getting your hands stained red.