Borsch – Борщ
I think there are as many variations of Borsch recipes as there are Slavic cooks, because everyone likes to add their special touch. I grew up eating it regularly and have always loved it. This soup is so full of nutrients; you can just feel the vitamins as you eat each delicious spoonful.
I grew up in Central New York, where my parents have a beautiful property. Every year they plant a garden and grow all kinds of vegetables. During summer vacation I would stroll through the dewy grass and pull out beets, carrots, onions, and garlic out of the rich soil.
Today, I walk through the aisles of the farmer’s market, loading my basket and dreaming of one day once again breathing the fresh air and enjoying my own garden. Although it’s not the same, the Borsch is still a great connection to think of the roots of our food. Not only is it fantastic during the summer when all the produce is amazingly fresh, but it’s such a comforting dish to enjoy in the cold winter months, whether you live in snowy New York or sunny Florida.
Video Recipe of How To Cook Borsch
What Type of Beef Is Used For Borsch?
You can use beef short ribs, beef shank or oxtails, which all are on the bone, but I also like to use beef chuck or beef top sirloin too.
Cut the beef chuck or top sirloin into bite-sized pieces and place it in a small pot with just enough water to cover the beef by about an inch. I love using my Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker) for cooking the beef while I am cooking the rest of the Borsch. If you’re using the Instant Pot, cook the beef ribs, shank, oxtail or chuck on Manual mode, High Pressure for 45-65 minutes and the beef top sirloin only needs 20 minutes to cook.
If you’re cooking the beef on the stovetop, bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook at a simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until fork tender, while cooking the borsch. You can also add some black peppercorns and bay leaves to flavor the broth. Skim off the foam from the top of the beef broth as it is cooking.
I usually make chicken broth in large batches and store it in my freezer. You can use store bought chicken broth if you don’t want to use homemade broth.
You can certainly omit the chicken broth and just use beef broth that you’ll get when cooking the beef, just make more broth. You can also add some beef bones and add 11 cups of water to the pot. Strain the broth when the beef is falling apart and fork-tender. Return the broth to the pot and continue with the recipe.
However, I prefer using chicken broth and cooking a bit of beef in a small pot on the side, while I am making the Borsch in a big pot. I think the flavor of Borsch based on a chicken broth is the best, at least in my opinion.
In addition to the broth, you can add some water to make the Borsch the consistency that you like. You can add up to 4 cups of water or not add any additional water at all, if you like the Borsch to be thicker in consistency.
Vegetarian or Vegan Borsch
It is very easy to make Borsch without meat. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and use oil for sautéing the vegetables, not butter and garnish the soup with vegan sour cream or don’t use sour cream at all.
Instead of meat, you can add beans or dry mushrooms. Dry porcini mushrooms are my favorite.
Cooking the Vegetables
While the beef is cooking, prepare the rest of the Borsch in a large pot or Dutch oven.
Heat the butter or oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes.
Pour in the water and chicken broth. Add the potatoes and cabbage to the Borsch.
If you are using really young green cabbage, you may want to add it after the potatoes are halfway done cooking, since they don’t take as long to cook as older, more white cabbage.
Bring to a boil, season with salt and keep cooking, at a simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the beets in a large skillet with the tomato sauce, water, lemon juice and sugar. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
The lemon juice will keep the beets a beautiful, vibrant red and also give it a slight tang to the Borsch. The sugar balances out the acidity of the lemon juice.
I prefer using roasted beets for Borsch, but you can also cook the beets in a pot with water or even use raw beets, but you will have to cook them much longer on the skillet. I usually roast the beets in advance. Here’s how to roast beets:
Cover the skillet, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, until most of the water and tomato sauce is absorbed. Clear a space in the center of the skillet and add the minced garlic to the beets, cooking for another minute or two, just until the garlic is cooked through.
When the potatoes are tender, add the beets to the soup and take Borsch off the heat. By this time, the beef should be fork-tender. If you like the consistency of the soup, drain the beef, if you like the soup to be thinner, drain the beef through a fine mesh sieve and add the beef liquid to the soup as well. If you used beef shank, remove the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the beef to the Borsch as well.
Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with finely chopped fresh dill and green onions. We Russians like to add a dollop of sour cream to our bowl of Borsch.
Borsch is one of the most well-known Slavic foods. It is a beet soup made with many other vegetables. This version is made with beef, potatoes, cabbage, lots of aromatic vegetables and is served with fresh herbs and sour cream. I share all my tips for a vibrantly bright red borsch that has so much incredible flavor.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 135 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- 8 oz boneless chuck beef (cut into bite-sized pieces or 1 lb bone-in beef shank)
- water to cook the beef
- 12 cups chicken broth (plus additional water for the Borsch, if you want to thin it out, 2–4 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 carrot (shredded)
- 1 celery stalk (finely chopped)
- 2 cups (2–3 gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 2–3 cups (cabbage)
- 2–3 medium beets (roasted, peeled and shredded or thinly julienned)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3–5 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons each fresh dill and green onion (to garnish)
- Cut the beef chuck into bite-sized pieces and place it into a small pot with just enough water to cover the beef by about an inch.You can also use a bone in beef shank instead of the chuck.
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook at a simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until fork tender, while cooking the Borsch. You can also add some black peppercorns and bay leaves to flavor the broth. Skim off the foam from the top of the beef broth as it is cooking.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the rest of the Borsch in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Heat the butter or oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes.
- Pour in the water and chicken broth. Add the potatoes and cabbage to the Borsch. Bring to a boil, season with salt and keep cooking, at a simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the beets in a large skillet with the tomato sauce, 1 cup water, lemon juice and sugar. Season with salt and ground black pepper. The lemon juice will keep the beets a beautiful, vibrant red and also give it a slight tang to the Borsch. The sugar balances out the acidity of the lemon juice.
- I prefer using roasted beets for Borsch, but you can also cook the beets in a pot with water or even use raw beets, but you will have to cook them much longer on the skillet. If you’re sautéing raw beets, you will need to add more water to the skillet and cook the beets longer until they are completely cooked through and tender.
- Cover the skillet, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, until most of the water and tomato sauce is absorbed into the beets.
- Clear a space in the center of the skillet and add the minced garlic to the beets, cooking for another minute or two, just until the garlic is cooked through.
- When the potatoes are tender, add the beets to the soup and take Borsch off the heat. By this time, the beef should be fork-tender.
- If you like the consistency of the soup, drain the beef, if you like the soup to be thinner, drain the beef through a fine mesh sieve and add the beef liquid to the soup as well. If you used beef shank, remove the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the beef to the Borsch as well.
- Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with finely chopped fresh dill and green onions. We Russians like to add a dollop of sour cream to our bowl of Borsch.
This is an updated version of the Borsch recipe that was published originally on November 21, 2011. The recipe is the same, with updated pictures and a new video.
Beautiful presentation! I love borsch, my favorite in the winter nights and summer days also, and it tastes better the next day 🙂
Wow this was DELICIOUS! And all this time I was convinced that a made the best borsch ;-). Thank u for posting this because this is the only way I will be making it from now on!
Thank you Natasha! You’re making me crave sone borsch. I’ll probably make some soon. I’m so glad you liked it!
Ольга, я давно не встречала настоящий борщ на свекле. Все-таки сейчас чаще встречаешь томатный.
Borsch is my favorite Russian soup and I definitely can’t imagine it without the beets. Beets are wonderful. It’s too bad not many people appreciate them enough:).
Borsch is Ukrainian soup.
I believe Ukrainians are Slavic:). I’m sure no matter what nationality prepares Borsch, it’s still just as tasty. Since I’m 1/4 Ukrainian, I hope I’m allowed to make it.
I am glad you posted this recipe, it’s my favorite, I always craving it, but every time I am making it, it’s something missing I just couldn’t figure out what, now I see, I wasn’t using the lemon juice, the beef, etc. From now on I will make exactly like this. I love beets. Thank you for posting.
I’m so glad to hear that this recipe was helpful for you. Borsch is my favorite soup for sure. It’s so delicious. I’m making a huge pot of it tomorrow, because you reminded me of it and now I’m craving it, Veronika.
I love beets, I don’t know why so many people don’t like beets, when you tell them they are like: what is that? or what do you do with that? funny…
Ha ha! So true.
Hi Olga! Great job on making the borscht 😉 I cook mine almost the same way and I am glad there are still people who can cook the real borscht 😉 God bless!
Ha ha! Thanks, Tatyana. In this day and age there are so many shortcuts but making something like Borsch is so satisfying:).
For the chuck beef is it the pot roast kind? Not the chuck beef steak kind right?
It’s the same cut of meat, Olga, except one is cut into a roast and the other into a steak. You can use both.
Wow, beautiful pictures! I just found your site and am in love with all the Russian recipes. I love the beauty of borscht. I just posted a recipe for borscht on my website and it’s amazing how different the prep can be. I think everybody’s borcht recipe is different. In fact, my borscht from week to week might even taste different! Borscht just has that reputation. Cheers from a fellow Russian.
Thanks, Irina! Yep, you’re certainly right that every cook has their own version of Borsch, kind of like Chicken Noodle Soup too. The best loved recipes are the ones that everybody puts their special twist on:).
It is really delicious, but this is Ukrainian nationality dish.
Yes, it is delicious. I think the most important thing is that this is a delicious and healthy soup, enjoyed by many nationalities, Natalia.
It’s important to be correct where from food what you posted, I’m sure :)!
This may be the perfect recipe! If I understand correctly, the beef is cooking separately and you add it towards the end. So I’m thinking I can make half a vegetarian version with veggie stock and to the other half I can add the meat, for those who like borscht with meat.
Yes, absolutely, Vita. Great idea, Vita.
I adore everything about your blog! Your recipes, stunning photography, and happy, grateful spirit! I have had a many months long stint on TPN several years ago also, though never suffered a thing like the physical and emotional trauma, or heart break that you and your family went through. I am so sorry about that. But I am also deliriously happy for the blessings you are now enjoying!
I am trying to tell from your photo… Your broth looks so clear and beautiful and I do not see any tomato? Is it possible you omitted the sauce and diced for the better photo or you personally just prefer your borscht without? I am thinking about my options!
Tomato! Sorry, I left that word! I can’t see any tomato product in your phot of the borscht. Maybe it’s just my grandma eyes missing it. I really want to get my first try at borscht just right! Thank-you!
Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Kitterbug. I really appreciate your kind words. All the trials in my life have taught me a lot and make me appreciate things so much more. I’m sorry you had to deal with TPN too:(.
In regards to the Borsch – I used pureed tomatoes. I just put some diced tomatoes in the food processor. I always add some sort of tomato product to Borsch and it goes in with the beets. I love the touch of acidity and the flavor that it adds to the Borsch. It still leaves the broth nice and clear.
A polish chef introduced me to the polish version of this. It’s less beetroot and red cabbage, and more normal cabbage and polish white sausage. Then it can be served in a cooked round loaf of bread – crusty on the outside with the inside scooped out – and then a boiled egg chopped in half and half a sausage. Delicious.
Hi Olga. I’ve been looking for a recipe that is specifically for pressure canning of Borscht and Solyanka. I’ work so much that I need to take a weekend and cook 20 liters of something to put up so I can grab it on the run out the door to work for lunches and so forth. My X used to make a vegetable Solyanka that was wonderful and Borscht that was to die for. I can make it from any recipe which I have done with many soups. But pressure canning is better when you consider the cooking time while processing. Also, there are some things best not pressure canned and I am not an expert. I need to cook up some batches of things and Borscht and Solyanka are both on my list. Any chance you can publish something for this and alert me when you do? I will love you forever!
Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with pressure canning. That’s a very smart idea; I love that you make Borsch and Solyanka.
I love soups. This soup looks super delicious!
When you cook soups how do you know what spices or what kind of salt to pair up? For example, when you cook tomato soup what spice/s go together? I like to cook a lot but I’m not good or have much experience.
Honestly, it’s completely a matter of taste preference. I just use whatever tastes good to me:).
If there are specific spices/herbs that I think pair especially well with a recipe, I usually write in in the recipe.
Looks super easy to make and extremely delicious!
Olga, I LOVE this soup! I do have a question about the recipe….in step 5, you write to add the chicken broth and water. How much water? I don’t see water listed except for a cup that is used in step 6 to cook with the beets. I’m wondering how much water to add with the 12 cups of chicken broth. Thanks!
The water can be added to thin out the Borsch if you want to to have a thinner consistency. You can add anywhere from 2-4 cups, or not add any at all, depending on how you like your soups, thick or thin.
I’ve been looking at this recipe for a long time & finally made it yesterday. I knew I would love it & it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t follow your suggestion to prep ahead, so the recipe did ttake some time, but I made enough to freeze, so it was more than worth it. Loved the sour cream & fresh dill add ons.
I know your recipes are your family favorites, but for me, they’re unusual & I love discovering new tastes. Thanks.
Thank you for taking the time to write, M’liss. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Borsch:).
This is a wonderful recipe although it is very, very time-consuming! Why is it necessary to re-cook the already-roasted beets in the skillet? Why not just add them and the tomato sauce and other ingredients to the pot and saute the garlic with the onion, carrot and celery? I’m wondering if the extra steps, time and dirtying-up another skillet is all warranted.
I agree that making Borsch is a time consuming process.
You don’t have to cook the beets in a skillet separately if you don’t want to. I share recipes the way that I make them, and that’s how I prefer to do it.
I personally do notice a taste and texture difference.
When you cook the beets in the skillet with the tomato sauce and the garlic, they will have a slightly different flavor. The tomato sauce will caramelize slightly as it cooks with the beets, giving them a sweeter, more developed and deeper/richer flavor. The garlic will also flavor the beets in a different way than if it is sautéed with the carrots celery and then simmered for awhile in the broth. The garlic flavor is much more pronounced when it’s sautéed with the beets and then added to the Borsch at the last minute. In my opinion, it’s worth it to dirty up an additional skillet and to take a little extra time to do this extra step, but you may not find it to be that way and that is totally fine too.
Olga, Thank you for explaining the rationale behind cooking the beets for second time in a skillet with the tomato sauce and garlic. It makes perfect sense. I am one of those people who needs to understand why I am instructed to do something that takes more time and trouble vs blindly following instructions. I see now why you take these extra steps and agree that it makes quite a noticeable difference.
My pleasure, Sara. I love understanding the “why” behind cooking this a certain way too:).
Great Recipe! I eyeballed quantities, and it came out great, but is there a printable recipe with the exact quantities/measurements of ingredients? Thanks!
Yes, at the bottom of the post.
Loved the recipe! I have never tried to make it with chicken and beef broth combined, turned out delicious!
That’s great, Katya! So glad you enjoyed the combo:).
Love this recipe! I’ve made this one and your vegetarian borsch version several times and they always turn out great! It definitely is a slightly more time consuming recipe but so worth it. The only thing I change when I make it is that I usually double the cabbage and halve the potatoes simply because I like cabbage and don’t care as much for potatoes 🙂
I am making this as I am writing, I have made with shredded chicken as my husband can’t eat much meat due to too much iron in his blood.
Olga oh dear silly me I missed the roasting part and just skillet cooked the beetroot. Ah well there is always a next time and I will see the flavour difference. Beautiful soup though and I adore beets. I added chicken and is still delicious. I would love the beef. I’ll make it next time. It a huge thank you for delicious food
Will you please adjust the settings for your recipes to print in solid black? I love your cooking and have printed many of your recipes, most of which print in a light gray color which is too light and very hard to read. I do wonder why you don’t select black as the default font color as it’s such an easy thing to do. I don’t meant to sound critical, just frustrated as to why I can hardly read the recipes after I print them. And, no, it’s not the fault of my printer as everything else prints just fine. It’s only your recipes that are hard to read as the font is light gray.
I love your cooking and am thankful for your sharing so much of yourself with your admiring public.
What are the calories for Borsch?
Sorry, I don’t measure calories, but there are many calculators online you can use by inserting the ingredients amounts to find out.
Excellent Recipe. Tried it today and was fantastic. Thank you.