You’re going to feel warm and comforted after a bowl of this Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht (Beet Soup)! This flexible and frugal recipe is made with heaps of vegetables and a homemade beef broth. It’s the best healthy meal for those chilly days!Jump to Recipe
I’m so happy to be sharing with you my mom’s recipe for Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht (Beet Soup)! This is a dish that will comfort you, fill you with warmth, and make you feel good all over.
Not only is this beet soup beautiful to look at with its ruby red color, but it’s also very good for you. Healthy and nutritious, you can find protein, iron, vitamins C and B6, fiber, and so much more in just 1 bowl. It’s a plant-focused recipe with a hearty, homemade beef broth.
This is a wonderful meal you can eat right away or store it for lunches and leftovers. You’ll definitely want to pack away an extra batch of the broth to enjoy on its own!
What is borscht?
Classic red borscht originated in Ukraine but is also very popular in Russia. It’s a beet-based soup that’s combined with any vegetables you have around the house or in the garden, and a hearty beef stock. It’s a great recipe when you’re working with a budget or need a little flexibility.
You can make borscht with beets and any other vegetables or stock you have at home. I prefer beef broth, potatoes, and cabbage in my beet soup, but feel free to add anything you like. This recipe is all about staying frugal and flexible.
Ingredients you need
Throw whatever you have on hand into this traditional borscht or follow the recipe to a tee. As long as you have the beets for that red hue, you’re good to go!
This is what you need:
- Beef shanks
- Onion and garlic
- Bay leaf
- Carrots and parsnip
- White cabbage
- Yukon gold potatoes
- Red bell pepper
- Great northern beans
Choose the right beef
Making your own beef broth will give the soup the best flavor, so it’s important to choose the right kind of beef. I prefer to use beef shanks or beef short ribs, but sirloin and stew meat will also work.
If the beef has a bone in it, place the entire piece in the water. After it cooks, remove it from the broth, cut the meat away, and discard the bone. Cut the meat into 1” pieces or, if using sirloin or stew meat, cut into 1 ½” pieces.
How to make Red Borscht (Beet Soup)
There is no specific technique needed for making an authentic borscht. I do recommend elevating the flavor and including the homemade beef broth. Also, make sure to add the vegetables in a specific order so they can cook to perfection.
Here’s how to make this recipe:
- Make the beef broth: Add water, bay leaves, onion, and beef to a large pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and simmer for 1 hour. Next, add salt to taste, then cook for 1 more hour. Remove the meat and strain the broth into a large bowl. Set the meat aside and cut into 1-1 ½” pieces once it’s cooled.
- Cook the beets and tomatoes: Add the beets with olive oil to a large pan and cook for 8 minutes on low heat. Add in the tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Prepare the borscht: In a soup pot, sauté the onion with olive oil until translucent, then add the shredded carrots and parsnips. Finish by pouring in the beef broth and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.
- Mix in the veggies: Add the cabbage, potatoes, celery, matchstick carrots, and bell pepper. Finish by stirring in the beets and tomato mixture.
- Add the beans and flavor: Now that the soup has been boiling for 15 minutes, add in the beans, ketchup, seasonings, bay leaves, garlic, and chopped parsley. Taste and season as you go.
- Finish it up: Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 5 to 10 minutes so all of the flavors can get to know each other.
Making beef broth in the Instant Pot
Add water, bay leaves, onion, beef shanks, and salt into your Instant Pot. Set it to cook on high pressure for 45 minutes to 1 hour and let it self release. Remove and set the meat aside, and drain the broth through a strainer. Cut the meat into 1-1 ½” pieces once it’s cooled.
If 10 cups won’t fit into your Instant Pot, add 8 cups of hot water instead.
Can it be made vegetarian?
Absolutely! Just skip the beef broth and use veggie stock instead. Feel free to add in extra veggies or beans for extra nutrients and protein.
Helpful recipe tips
- Make the beef stock well ahead of time to cut down on prep and cooking time. I love using the Instant Pot to cook the broth a day ahead of time so all of the flavors mingle and deepen by the time I need it for the soup.
- Have all of the ingredients prepped and easily accessible before making the soup. This will save you from scrambling to get everything together. Start by peeling, grating, chopping, slicing, and dicing all of the vegetables, then layout your seasonings in small bowls.
- Prevent the peeled and sliced potatoes from discoloring by keeping them in a bowl of cold water.
How to serve
Serve up each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a side of warm bread. For a true experience, eat small bites of raw garlic with each bite. It’s the best Ukrainian medicine!
Store the leftover borscht in mason jars or airtight containers when it’s cooled to room temperature. Make sure to leave an extra inch at the top in case it expands. Keep leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
Defrost the leftover soup in the fridge or add it right into a pot on the stove to reheat.
More warm and comforting recipes
Try these recipes to warm you up on a cold day:
- Chebureki With Beef And Pork
- Pork Chops With Tarragon Sauce
- Mediterranean Chicken And Orzo
- Instant Pot Beef Ragu
- Chicken Pot Pies With Puff Pastry
Did you try this Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht (Beet Soup) recipe? Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or rate this recipe below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram! I love to share all of your recreations!
Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht (Beet Soup)
- 2 beef shanks or beef short ribs, sirloin, or stew meat
- ½ onion
- 10 cups water
- 2 bay leaf
- salt to taste
Red Borscht (Beet Soup)
- ½ sweet onion diced small
- 1 medium carrot shredded. Save the tip to slice into match sticks.
- 1 cup parsnip cut into matchsticks
- 8 cups homemade beef broth or storebought
- ½ medium white cabbage finely shredded
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes or white potatoes, cut into 1/4” thick smaller slices
- 1 stick celery cut into 1/4 inch slices
- ½ red bell pepper or 1 Anaheim pepper, diced
- 1 medium beet red is best, either shred or cut into matchsticks
- 14 ½ oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 15.8 oz great northern beans canned, rinsed
- 1 tbsp ketchup plus more to taste (if needed)
- 3 cloves garlic put through garlic press or grated
- ½ bunch parsley or dill finely chopped
- 2 ½ tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 bay leaves
- sour cream
Homemade Beef Broth
- In a large pot, add water, bay leaves, onion, and beef shanks. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and cook for 1 hour. Add salt to taste and continue to cook for another hour.
- Remove the meat, and drain the broth through a strainer to remove any imperfections. Set the meat aside and cut into 1-inch pieces once it's cooled.
Instant Pot Beef Broth Option
- Add water, bay leaves, onion, and beef shanks and salt. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 45 minutes-1 hour and let it self release. Remove the meat and drain the broth through a strainer. Once the meat is cooled, cut into 1-1 1/2-inch pieces. *If 10 cups of water doesn't fit in your Instant Pot, add 8 cups of hot water instead.
Red Borscht (Beet Soup)
- In a large pan on the stovetop, add the beets with olive oil and cook for 8 minutes on low heat. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion with olive oil until translucent. After 5 minutes, add the shredded carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the parsnip and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the beef broth and salt, and bring to boil.
- Add the cabbage and potatoes, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery and bring to a boil. Add the matchstick carrots and bell pepper, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Now add the beets and tomatoes mixture. Bring to a boil.
- Add in the rinsed beans and ketchup and stir gently to incorporate. Add any additonal ketchup and salt if needed. Bring to a boil, add the bay leaves garlic, and chopped parsley or dill. Bring to a final boil, turn off the heat, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so the flavors can get to know each other.
- To serve: Add borsht to a bowl, add chunks of meat, and serve with sour cream and bread.