Green Borsch – Sorrel/Spinach Potato Soup (Зелёный Борщ)

Green Borsch is a unique soup in the Slavic culture that is made with sorrel, potatoes, onions and garnished with hard boiled eggs and sour cream. The sorrel makes it tangy and sour, but the rest of the ingredients pair really well with it to make it comforting and delicious.

A bowl of Green Borsch; a sorrel soup made with potatoes, onions, carrots and garnished with hard boiled eggs and sour cream.

Green Borsch was really popular in our family. My mom made it all the time, especially in the summer months when we had tons of sorrel growing in our garden. We grew up calling it Shchavel (Щавель in Russian), which is translated as sorrel.

This soup is simple and delicious, reminiscent of uncomplicated Russian peasant food. The tart, lemon flavor that the sorrel gives that soup is really pleasant and pairs so nicely with the heartier ingredients of the soup. It has withstood the test of time, and is enjoyed to this very day.

I usually make this soup with a chicken broth base, add some potatoes, carrots and onions, and it cooks up in no time. Once all these vegetables are cooked through, I add the spinach or sorrel at the last minute and then garnish with some chopped hard boiled eggs and a dollop of sour cream. Since none of the vegetables need to be sautéed, like in most other soups, it is really quick to prepare.

What is Sorrel?

Sorrel

Sorrel is a plant that has large green leaves that have a sour and tangy, almost lemony flavor. It is a really popular in the Eastern European countries like Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. It is most commonly used in soups and salads, similarly to spinach and kale, although it has a completely different taste and texture. In Russian, we call it Schavel – Щавель. Sorrel is very healthy, full of vitamins A & C, so it’s terrific for your immune system.

It is very easy to grow (I bought my seeds on Amazon actually) and when you grow them once, they will keep regrowing every year, as long as you keep the roots in. If you let the sorrel go to seed, you will have more seeds too. Sorrel leaves freeze really well too. We just slice up the sorrel leaves and store them in air tight containers of freezer ziplock bags. Add the sorrel frozen to any soups that you are making.

Cutting sorrel leaves

It is also grown in many other countries, but is not very commonly used in the United States. I have never seen it sold in any grocery stores or farmer’s markets, but since many people from my culture grew up loving it, they often grow it in their own gardens. My parents always had it growing in their garden and I have started growing it in my backyard too.

No Sorrel? Here’s What You Can Use Instead:

Some international food markets, like Polish or Russian stores in the US sell canned sorrel, which you can use in this soup. However, it has been my experience that canned sorrel is very gritty and it’s really hard to clean, so keep that in mind.

I have also used spinach many times instead of sorrel and added a generous addition of lemon juice along with the spinach to give the soup some of the tanginess that is missing from the spinach. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will also taste delicious.

Broth Options For Green Borsch

chicken broth tutorial
  • You need broth to make this soup. I usually use chicken broth, but you can also use vegetable broth and it will be a delicious vegetarian soup. You can use store-bought chicken broth and also add some cooked chicken to the soup. Or use homemade broth that you froze or canned. This is a faster option.
  • You can also make the vegetable or chicken broth with a few chicken wings or drumsticks before starting the soup and save the chicken to be added to the soup too. This will make the process a bit longer, but it’s not hard to too and if you use an Instant Pot, it will make it a bit faster.
  • Chicken Broth Stovetop Recipe
  • Chicken Broth Instant Pot Recipe
  • Vegetable Broth Recipe

Hard Boiled Eggs

Need a recipe for hard boiled eggs? I’ve got 2, one using the stove and the other using an Instant Pot. You can make the hard boiled eggs up to a few days in advance or right before serving.

Preparing Sorrel Soup – Green Borsch

Shchavel - Green Borsch, Russian sorrel soup tutorial.
  1. Prep all the ingredients. Wash and cut the sorrel or spinach. (A salad spinner is my favorite for washing herbs and lettuce. It really gets in there, thoroughly washes through all the leaves and loosens all the grit.)
  2. Chop the onion, peel and chop the carrots and potatoes. If you are making the chicken broth from scratch, that’s a great time to do it.
  3. Pour in the broth into a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring it to a boil. Add the onion, carrots and potatoes to the pot. Bring it all to a boil again, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the soup is cooking, hard boil the eggs, although you can do that in advance as well. Peel and chop the eggs.
  5. Add the sorrel/spinach at the very end. If you’re using spinach, add the lemon juice as well. Taste the soup and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc., if needed. You only need to cook the sorrel/spinach for 2-5 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked chicken, if using to the soup at the very end, just to heat it through. (You can use the chicken you used to cook the chicken broth, or use any leftover cooked chicken.)
  7. Garnish the soup with hard boiled eggs and a dollop of sour cream. Serve hot. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Green Borsch made with sorrel or spinach, potatoes, onions, carrots and hard boiled eggs. A popular Russian soup.
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Green Borsch – Spinach Potato Soup

  • Author: Olga from Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 68 1x
  • Category: Soups

Description

Green Borsch is a unique soup in the Slavic culture that is made with sorrel, potatoes, onions and garnished with hard boiled eggs and sour cream. The sorrel makes it tangy and sour, but the rest of the ingredients pair really well with it to make it comforting and delicious.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth 
  • about 1 cup cooked chicken, optional (either from making chicken broth or any other cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups (packed tightly) chopped sorrel or spinach
  • 23 Tablespoons lemon juice (only if you’re using spinach)
  • 5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • sour cream, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Start by making the chicken or vegetable broth (if making from scratch) or use store bought broth or broth that you made in advance. Chicken Broth Stovetop Recipe OR Chicken Broth Instant Pot Recipe
  2. Prep the vegetables. Chop the onion, peel and chop the carrots and potatoes, slice the sorrel or spinach. 
  3. Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots and potatoes to the broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 more minutes. 
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, make the hard boiled eggs, then peel and chop them. You can make the hard boiled eggs in advance, or right before serving. Hard Boiled Eggs – Stovetop Recipe OR Hard Boiled Eggs Instant Pot Recipe 
  5. When the potatoes are cooked through, add the sorrel or spinach. If you’re using spinach, add the lemon juice as well. Cook 2-5 minutes only. 
  6. If you want to use cooked chicken, add it at the very end too, just for enough time to heat it through. You can use the chicken that you used to make the chicken broth or use any other cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces. Chicken is optional. 
  7. Garnish the soup with chopped hard boiled eggs and a dollop of sour cream.
  8. Serve the soup hot, storing leftovers in the refrigerator, up to 5 days. 

28 Comments

  • Olya D

    You can find sorrel in jars in the Polish/Russian sections of the stores with international foods… It’s not as good as fresh sorrel, but still gives that significant sorrel taste that’s a little different than spinach with lemon. I like mine really sour, with tons of sorrel. So lemon & spinach doesn’t really achieve that, unless I do a lot of lemons.

  • Olga M.

    Olya, this is growing season for shavel. Come visit North Port and let me know ahead of time (migashkin@yahoo.com) and I will “hook” you up. My mom grows it. I get a bag full from her, cut it all and freeze in portions what I don’t use. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Tina

    I love shchavel and looked all of over the place here where I live and no sign of it, no where! 🙁 we use spinach too but you are right that it needs lots of lemon to taste something like sorrel. I’m going to try your new addition of using chicken broth instead of just plain water with seasonings, it sounds delicious 🙂

  • Helen

    Thank you, Olga, for great idea to substitute for sorrel. It works for me, i like fresh greens in my borshch (i also don’t have sorrel) 🙂 You are creative with food! Thank for sharing. I just made it and loved it!!!

  • Tatyana

    This was wonderful Olga! I made it tonight and my husband loved it. He said it tastes just like the kind of “green borsch” his mom used to make! I am thrilled about your site! I have my eye on a few recipes already:)

  • Jenka

    Dear Olechka, do u think this soup will work with sorrel/ shavel’/? I have tons in my garden…need to utilize it somehow…
    Let me know….
    By the way your website is FANTASTIC ! If u r ever in California/Fremont/, stop by, we’ll whip us something great together…:-)
    God bless… Jenya crytoGod@msn.com

    • olgak7

      Jenka,
      Thank you so much for your warm comment.
      Definitely use sorrel! It tastes so much better than spinach, in my opinion, for this soup. The only reason I don’t use it is because I don’t have any available.

  • Nata

    Question – can I leave the hardboiled eggs in the borsch if I’m planning to have leftovers or do I add those prior to eating each time? Just wandering if they will keep their shape and look “pretty” the next day. By the way my mom slowly pours raw scrambled eggs at the end of the cooking process while constantly mixing the borsch (kind of like Chinese egg drop soup style) but I wanted to try it your way this time 🙂

  • Oksana

    I’ll be making the green borscht today. We now have an abundance of sorrel in our garden. I like to chop up the sorrel when we have too much and freeze. Then in the winter time I can make this borscht anytime. Next time you go to your mom’s house, cut up and freeze a bunch to take home with you.
    A quick question, have you ever made soup out of krapiva? That plant that stings? Sorry don’t know the name of it in english. My husband knows where it grows and has been asking me to make soup out of it.

    • olgak7

      My Mom froze sorrel all the time and we would also make it in the winter time as well.
      I’ve never made soup from krapiva, so I can’t really help you there.

  • olga

    Hi Olga,
    Could I just store bought Chicken broth instead? And what meat did you place into the soup? I dont seem to catch that on the recipe, unless its the meat from the chicken wings??

    Thanks

    • olgak7

      Yes, Olga, you can use store bought Chicken Broth. I don’t like the taste of it personally and always have homemade chicken broth stored in my freezer for quick and easy soups. Of course you can use store bought, though!
      I used the meat from the chicken wings in the soup itself.

    • olgak7

      Yes, you can use chicken breast. You can add it to the soup in the very beginning of cooking and just cook it until it cooks through. You can also use cooked chicken and add it at the very end to the soup. For example, if you make roast chicken one night and have some meat left on it, take it off the chicken and add it to your soups.

  • Svetlana

    Love this soup since my childhood! 😉 Now my oldest daughter is a fun of this soup. 🙂 I grow the sorrel in my garden and make some for winter time too. It is really good!

    • olgak7

      That’s so awesome that you grow sorrel, Svetlana. I have really fond memories of gardening with my Mom and hope to have a garden of my own someday as well. My Mom still grows sorrel in her garden and we really enjoy it when we come for a visit.

  • Alina

    I’m gonna try making this with leftover spinach since I don’t have sorrel and I’m planting sorrel this year in a small garden my mother in law plants lots of sorrel so I could go get from her also 🙂

  • Tatyana

    I used sorrel but didn’t have enough so I added some homemade tomato juice and a little bit of lemon juice for more sourness. It turned out super delicious!!!

  • Olga Belokin

    Hi Olya and everyone,

    I love this soup and have found the schavel in jars in the Russian and international markets; however, I have dump it every time because it’s always full of sand, so don’t waste your money buying it in jars. If you don’t grow it or buy it fresh so that you can wash it well, make it with spinach and lemons.

  • Eugene Powers

    My mom made this soup with rice too. But when we moved to US she used spinach and a pinch of ascorbic acid. I don’t remember her shreading spinach though. I think she used baby spinach.

  • Maria Black

    If you don’t have sorrel you can use spinach and a combination of vinegar and lemon juice. If you use only lemon it won’t have the right taste. Also I always add Dill with the sorrel or spinach.

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