Learn how to make traditional Russian borscht recipe here! This Russian traditional beef soup is just what you need for a cold winter evening. I love this simple soup recipe because it is packed with vitamins, flavor, and doesn’t contain much fat or carbohydrates. This Russian borscht soup with beef can even assist in weight loss!
What is the Difference Between Russian and Ukrainian Borscht?
It is believed that borscht originated in Ukraine and then traveled over to different countries that customized it according to their liking. So, technically, there is no difference between Russian and Ukrainian borscht, but practically there are different versions of borscht from one household to another. Some make it with beef or pork, while others prefer chicken.
However, some people will make vegetarian borscht! Some ingredients are optional: you can add or leave the beans, the cabbage, the red pepper, and potatoes, but whatever you do, borscht is not going to stay borscht if you leave out the beetroot that is giving the soup that beautiful red color and sweet flavor.
Does Borscht Traditionally Have Meat?
Yes. Traditional borscht recipe calls for beef on a bone, but you can also use pork with a bone and still have a traditional borscht!
What Does Borscht Taste Like?
It is hard to describe all the flavors you get with this rich soup! You have the sweetness of the beets and the carrot, the sourness of the vinegar and tomato paste, the meaty richness of the bone broth, and the unique flavor of fresh dill added to the bowl at the very end. On top of that you get a whole spoon of sour cream that takes the flavors even further!
Ingredients for Traditional Russian Borscht
– 500 grams of beef on a bone (pork on a bone works too!)
– 2 medium beets
– 1 medium onion
– 1 medium-large carrot
– 300 grams cabbage
– 3-4 garlic cloves
– 2 medium parsley roots
– 3 medium potatoes
– 2-3 bay leaves
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 2 tbsp tomato paste
– Salt and pepper to taste
Substitutions and Swaps
– Substitute meat for chicken or pork, or omit meat completely for a vegetarian version (then you will need to use vegetable stock)
– Add kidney beans for protein if you’d like!
– Substitute yellow onion for a red one if you need to!
– For frying you can use any oil you like!
Watch How to Make Traditional Russian Borscht Recipe!
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 – make the broth
Boil some water and add it to a large pot. Add the meat with the bone and let the water come up to a simmer. Scoop out any dirt that shows up on the surface to keep the borscht soup clean. Continue scooping out the foam throughout the boiling process!
Simmer the meat for 2-3 hours (you can make a shorter version and boil your broth for 30-60 minutes, but you will miss out on some flavors and bone broth health benefits.)
Test the meat from time to time to see whether it is done and then take it out from the pot until the next step.
*After boiling the meat for 1.5 hours I still found it still underdone. So, you might actually need to increase the time of your broth making depending on when the meat gets done.
Step 2 – fry the veggies
Peel the onion, the carrot, and the beets. You can use a regular Y-shaped vegetable peeler for the carrot and the beets. Chop the onion and grate the carrot and the beets. You can also use a food processor for this step!
Add some oil to a preheated frying pan and place the chopped onion in it. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium-low and add the carrot. After about 5 minutes add the beets and the apple cider vinegar. Stir and fry for another 5-10 minutes. Then, add the tomato paste and sugar and fry for another 5 minutes.
Step 3 – prep the veggies
Peel the potatoes and the parsley root. Chop and set aside. Chop the cabbage by hand or in a food processor, and set aside.
When the broth is ready, add salt, pepper, and cabbage. Simmer for 5 minutes and add chopped potatoes and parsley root. Continue simmering until the potatoes are boiled.
Step 3 – bring the soup together
Once the potatoes are done add the fried veggies, meat, and bay leaves. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes and turn the fire off. Let the borscht sit for 10-15 minutes before serving!
Tips and Tricks for Traditional Russian Borscht Recipe
– Add greens at the end of the process. You can add fresh dill, parsley, green onion, or anything else you like!
– Don’t skip the broth part. Don’t just use a bullion cube with boneless meat. You will get a decent soup, but not the traditional healthy Russian borscht. You can even make your bone broth ahead of time and use it in this recipe! Bone broth freezes very well.
– Serve borscht with a spoon of sour cream and fresh greens.
– Add some extra bones to the stock for extra richness and health benefits (bone marrow is really good for you!)
– Be careful when working with beets – wear an apron and use gloves to avoid stains. If a beet stain still sneaks onto your clothes, try to get it out as soon as possible for the best results! To get rid of a beet stain, first, wash the stain with water and apply stain remover (you can use dish soap for this one!). Throw the piece of clothing into the washing machine whenever you get a chance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Side Dish Goes with Borscht?
In Russia and Ukraine borscht is served with some good quality homemade bread buns or piroshki. In any case, don’t forget to add a good amount of dill and sour cream to the bowl!
Is Borscht Soup Good for Weight Loss?
Actually, it is! Eating some borscht before the main course will not only provide you will tons of vitamins (iron, carotene, vitamin C, B6, K, potassium…), but also will make you eat less overall. Borscht doesn’t have much fat or carbs in it, but it does fill you up so you end up consuming less calories overall. You can also add beans for extra protein!
Can I Use Canned Beets?
You can! Chop them in a food processor and add at the very end of the process. No need to fry canned beets! The liquid can go into the soup as well.
Can You Freeze Borscht?
Yes! You can store borscht in the freezer using tightly sealed freezer-safe containers or bags. It will keep for up to 2 months! Freeze in individual portions so that you don’t end up having to freeze your borscht a second time. *Freeze without sour cream!
How Long Does Borscht Last in the Fridge?
In a tightly sealed container your borscht soup will last for 4-5 days. The flavors continue blooming and developing for 2-3 days as the soup sits in the fridge, so don’t be afraid to serve some of that borscht you made 2 days ago to your guests!
Can You Serve Borscht Cold?
In my experience growing up in Russia and Ukraine borscht is always served hot. There are other types of soups that resemble borscht that can be served cold, but not borscht. However, who said you can’t come up with a new way to serve borscht? If you like it cold, eat it cold!
Other Soups You Might Like:
Have you made traditional Russian borscht recipe? I would love to see your results! You can share your pictures on Instagram and tag me @natashashome_ and I would love to share your creations in my stories. If you have any questions, please, feel free to ask in the comments below!