Classic Beef Borscht

4.41 from 10 votes

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Nothing beats a bowl of wholesome borsch soup on a cold winter day. This classic beef borscht recipe features simple ingredients, classic method and authentic taste!

Beef borscht soup in a white bowl topped with dollop of sour cream.


 

This beautiful deep red beet soup is my childhood favorite!!! While I’m not technically a Russian, I’m definitely a Russian at heart. I grew up in a Russian community from the age of 3 and learned to talk, read and write in Russian. 😉

So yeah, I know a thing or two about Russian cuisine. And if you love Russian food, you may also like my Russian piroshki, shashlyk and crepe recipes.

Why you’ll love this borscht soup:

Borscht is actually a traditional Ukrainian dish, but is equally popular in Russia and former USSR countries and northern Asia.

And surprisingly it’s quite popular here in North Dakota too, because all the Ukrainian immigrants settled in ND long time ago.

There’s no one way to make borscht. Every family (or even every cook) makes borsch different ways. That’s the beauty of this soup!

You’ll love this for so many reasons. This borsch is:

  • loaded with veggies – And kids love this soup!!!
  • easy to customize – You can make it with our without beef, replace any veggies if you need to.
  • perfect for meal prepping – It makes a huge batch and it only gets better with time!

And even beet-haters love this soup!

Bowl of soup with a slice of bread dipped in it.

Key Ingredients:

  • Beef is not essential for making a great borsch, but we love beef borscht. If you can, choose a beef soup bone, chuck roast, stew meat, or top sirloin.
  • Beets are the star of the show! I like to grate half of the beets on a large box grater, and cut other half into matchstick with a knife for texture variation.
  • Carrots are also one of the main vegetables, and I also like to grate them on a large box grater. You can choose regular orange carrots, as well as rainbow ones!
  • Onion and garlic add ton of flavor, but since my husband can’t eat onion, I cook my borsch without onion.
  • Tomato paste is key for depth of flavor. Some use ketchup too.
  • Celery is not traditional vegetable in a Ukrainian borscht, but I think it’s a great addition nonetheless. Feel free to omit it, if you want.
  • Potatoes make the soup more substantial and hearty. I like to cut them into small cubes, so they cook faster and easy to eat for little kids.
  • Cabbage – You can use any variety of cabbage: green, purple, Napa. Although Napa cabbage isn’t traditional, I like how quick it cooks and its subtle texture.
  • Bay leaf, lemon juice, dill (or parsley) are additional flavor boosters that make the soup so tasty!

Tip

To make a vegetarian borsch, add any kind of beans and mushrooms in place of beef and use vegetable broth.

How to make borsch:

1. Make beef broth and prep vegetables

First, we’ll start making beef broth. If you have beef on the bone, fantastic! Cook it whole in the cold water and then remove from the stock and cut the meat into small pieces.

If you’re using beef without bones, then go ahead and cut the meat into 1-inch pieces and make the broth. When the broth boils up, it’ll produce some scum foam on top. Remove the scum with a slotted spoon right away for nice and clear broth, it’s purely for aesthetics though.

And while broth is cooking, wash, peel, cut all the veggies.

Tip

I don’t use any disposable gloves to handle beets. If you wash the cutting board and your hands with soap immediately after chopping and handling beets, the stain doesn’t stay long. The beet stain will completely gone in couple of washes.

Step by step photo of making beef broth and prepped veggies.

2. Make zajarka

In a large skillet (I use 12-inch skillet), heat oil and add onion, garlic, carrots. Saute until nice and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Then stir in beets, followed by tomato paste. And continue to cook for about 8 minutes.

Step by step photo of making zajarka.

If you’re short on time, you may want to try my simple borscht recipe.

3. Make the soup

Add potatoes, celery, cabbage and bay leaf into the broth and continue to cook until potatoes are tender.

Once the potatoes are cooked, add carrot and beets mixture, lemon juice, dill (or parsley) and freshly ground black pepper. And gently simmer for about 5 minutes.

Step by step photo of making borscht soup.

What to serve with borsch:

Traditionally, borsch is served with sour cream and bread. And that’s exactly how I like it! And feel free to garnish with more fresh dill or parsley.

Storing Tips:

Beef borscht stores well and only gets better with time. I usually divide the leftover soup into plastic soup containers.

  • Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat, take only the amount you’re serving and gently simmer on stovetop until heated through, or microwave for 2 minutes.

Tip

Repeated heating, or boiling the soup for too long, will cause the beet soup loose its bright color.

Beef borscht in a Dutch oven.
Beef borscht soup in a white bowl topped with dollop of sour cream.
4.41 from 10 votes

Classic Beef Borscht

Nothing beats a bowl of wholesome borsch soup on a cold winter day. This classic beef borscht recipe features simple ingredients, classic method and authentic taste!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

For beef broth:

  • 1 lb (450g) beef cut into 1-inch cubes Note 1
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt divided

For zajarka/mirepoix:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium beets
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste Note 2

For soup:

  • 2 medium potatoes Yukon gold or russet
  • 2 celery ribs optional
  • 1/4 cabbage 2-3 cups chopped Note 3
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup parsley or dill chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sour cream and bread for serving

Instructions 

To make beef broth:

  • In a large pot (I use 5qt Dutch oven), add beef chunks, 10 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat, skimming off the scum for clearer broth. Then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 45 minutes.

To prepare vegetables:

  • Meanwhile, wash and peel all the vegetables.
    Grate the carrots and one beet on a large box grater. And julienne the other beet. (I like the variation in texture, but you can grate them all or julienne all the carrots and beets by knife, if you want to.)
  • Cube the potatoes and slice celery into small pieces.
    Thinly slice the cabbage.
    Finely mince the onion.

To cook zajarka/mirepoix:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I use 12-inch skillet) over medium low heat.
  • Add onion, carrots and garlic and sauté until nice and fragrant. Then stir in beets and tomato paste and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

To make the soup:

  • Once the broth has been cooking for about 30 minutes, add potatoes, celery, cabbage and bay leaf. And continue to cook the soup until potatoes are tender.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked through, reduce the heat to medium low and stir in carrot and beet mixture along with freshly squeezed lemon juice into the soup.
  • Gently simmer the soup for 5 minutes and then add freshly ground black pepper, fresh parsley or dill.
  • Serve immediately with sour cream and bread.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: Choose beef soup bone, chuck roast, stew meat, or top sirloin beef.
Note 2: Tomato paste is key for depth of flavor. Some use ketchup too.
Note 3: You can use any variety of cabbage: green, purple, Napa. Although Napa cabbage isn’t traditional, I like how quick it cooks and its subtle texture.
Storing Tips:
Beef borscht stores well and only gets better with time. I usually divide the leftover soup into plastic soup containers.
– Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
– Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat, take only the amount you’re serving and gently simmer on stovetop until heated through, or microwave for 2 minutes. (TIP: Repeated heating, or boiling the soup for too long, will cause the beet soup loose its bright color.)

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal
Carbohydrates: 17g
Protein: 15g
Fat: 5g
Sugar: 5g
Sodium: 713mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: russian

This recipe was originally shared on February 23, 2016.

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

4.41 from 10 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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48 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice now and my husband and I really love it. The only changes I make is adding some more boiling water at the end and a teaspoon or two of cane sugar. We used to always get take out borscht from a nearby Chinese restaurant of all places but it closed down. I was then tasked with making it! This is a lot less sweet than the takeaway version so I’m sure it is much healthier. Thank you very much!

  2. 5 stars
    I had my 1st exposure to borscht when a neighbor asked me if I’d be willing to help her do some canning. This was in 1972, I was just 16. Mrs. Stemkowski had me help her can 50 quarts of borscht that year. I can’t tell you how happy I was to come across your recipe. This is the closest I’ve seen to hers… I think she used paprika in hers.. Can’t wait to make this, it’s been 50 years since I last had any of Mrs. Stemkowski wonderful soup.

    1. Hi, Marian! I’m SO happy you found my recipe. Hope you’ll give it a try. Please let me know how you like it! Thanks for sharing your beautiful memory!!

  3. 4 stars
    I was hesitant to make this as a few of the reviews mention lack of flavor. However, since it was a simple recipe, I decided to give it a try. And I’m so glad I did! It was delicious! It was rich in flavor, almost like my mom used to make. I would of given 5 stars, however, I feel like the time isn’t accurate as it took more than an hour and I did have to add 1 qt of organic broth, which made it perfect consistency. Will be adding this one to my recipe binder 🤗

    1. Hi, Natashka!! I’m so happy you tried and liked my borscht recipe!! As you cook the soup more and more, I think it’ll come quicker for you!! Thank you SO much for your feedback!

    1. Hi, Debra. No, I don’t roast the beets. Just raw beets sautéed with carrots and tomato paste before adding to the soup.

  4. Quick comment, your borscht is missing one key ingredient—-Fresh dill.
    Esp with sour cream on top of the bowl of soup as well.
    xoxo
    I grew up in a family in New York- my father first generation American, his family all came from Russia, my mother’s father too was from Russia.
    in the Pinsk/Minsk area of Belarus. We grew up eating many Russian dishes which are simply lovely.

    1. Hi, Donna. Thank you for sharing! Yes, fresh dill is pretty common garnish and addition to borsch. However, I don’t always use dill, mostly because our family didn’t use it growing up. I think every family has their own classic version.

      1. This is so true! that’s what makes international cuisines so interesting based on family traditions passed down through the generations and flavors that vary by regions.
        Nice to chat with you, I’ll keep my eye on your blog/recipes.

  5. Shinee,

    You wouldnt happen to have the nutritional info on this soup would you? It shoudlnt be difficult to go through and figure out but if someone else has already done it, it does make things a bit easier.

  6. I feel like I missed something, this must be the most bland borcht I’ve ever made. I even added fill and apple cider vinegar, as well as cubed beets and grated. 

    1. Hi, Jess. Sorry you didn’t like my borscht recipe. I guess it was so horrible it only deserved only 1 star. Oh well, I appreciate your feedback. I’m surprised though. With all that vegetables and meat, herbs and even vinegar, it was still bland?

  7. 4 stars
    Just so so. Not enough flavor and I did not enjoy the mushiness the grated vegetables added. I added beef bones, dill, salt, more pepper and an extra long simmer on the broth and it was still bland. Needs more beets and potatoes, next time I’d do onions and I wouldnt cook anything in a separate pot so the flavors actually meld. 

    1. Hi, Alia! Thank you for your honest feedback. Onions would be a great addition. But I’m surprised you felt it didn’t have enough beets, I secretly think I add a bit too much of it. 🙂 I guess, to each their own. Stewing beets and carrots separately actually adds more flavor and it’s a traditional way of cooking borsch. But I know not everyone cooks it this way. Again, everyone has their own method. Hope you’ll find a perfect borscht recipe for you and your family.

    2. Ok, I have to up it to 4 stars. It did taste better the following days, but even more than that my 1 and 4 year olds have been chowing down on it. So maybe it’s not my exact “perfect borscht,” but it is obviously very well received. Thank you!

      1. Yay, so happy your kiddos are loving it. My 2 year old also loves it!! Thank you for this feedback. (And I increased your original rating to 4. 😉