What is Ukrainian Borscht Soup?

Do you think people could have conflict over something as simple as soup? The star of such a conflict is the borscht soup invented by the ethnic Ukrainians back in the 18th century. This dispute has been between Russians and Ukrainians dated back to when Ukrainians were under Russian rule. 

Although Borscht soup is an integral part of Russian cuisine, it is originally a traditional dish of Ukrainians. The derivation of its label is from a Slavic word meaning cow parsnip, but later on, the basis of the soup was replaced with beetroot. 

Borscht has many variations, and it can be either served cold or hot depending on the lightness and thickness of the texture required. Kvass, a bitter alcoholic beer made from fermented beets or bread, can be added to neutralize the effect of sweetness from the beetroot. To counterbalance the sweet taste, citric acid and vinegar can work wonders as well. 

What is Ukrainian borscht soup?

Borscht soup with bread and pickles.

Ukrainian borscht soup takes its customary strong red color from beets. It is a lavish red soup rich with various root vegetables complemented with beef that creates a strong yet delicious dish. 

The soup is served with pie rolls that have a filling of onions; beef and sour cream are garnished to balance out and give an edge to the sweet taste of beetroots. 

A vegetarian version of borscht soup is also available; the meat is replaced with mushroom stocks to add flavor and mushroom filling for the dumplings to enhance the experience. 

Major elements of Borscht soup


Beetroots placed on a wooden table. 

Root vegetables are required to make up the soup, so beetroot steals the limelight among the other root vegetables as it is a must! Beetroot provides the soup with its deep red color and adds sweetness to it. 

Vegetables other than beetroot that can work beautifully with the other elements are carrots, turnip, or parsnip. They should be sliced in a consistent manner depending on the cutting style you prefer. However, they are typically seen in matchstick cuts that are thin strips of vegetables. 

Other vegetables can include cabbage that is crispy and stiff to create different textures within the soup. Try to avoid baked potatoes for the broth as they will not quite work out; instead, use yellow or red potatoes that might take longer to cook, but it’s for the best!


A person slicing cooked meat. 

Variation can be made when it comes to the type of meat used, but meat with fat and bones is a must to enhance the taste of the broth. Typically beef is utilized, but goose, duck, and chicken can act as substitutes.


Tomato paste in a ceramic bowl.

Tomato paste can work wonders when it comes to creating a compatible flavor. You can never go wrong with the use of tomato paste. Also, minimal to no additional effort is required to alter the taste as it blends really well with the broth. 

Basic Ingredients 

Sliced vegetables scattered on a wooden table. 

If you desire to make a vegetarian borscht soup, then eliminate the use of any kind of meat, and the rest of the recipe remains the same. Just add mushroom flavored stocks instead. 

Following are the components that make up a borscht soup:

  • Tomato paste
  • Meat with bones and fat: choose one from below according to your preference. 
  • Beef 
  • Duck or chicken 
  • Pork 
  • Peeled and shredded beets
  • Carrots sliced in julienne cut
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chopped onion 
  • Stiff green cabbage 
  • Cubed or stripped potatoes 
  • Sour cream (for topping) 
  • Extracted lemon juice 
  • Salt and pepper


Man cooking soup in two large metal pots. 

Add the chunk of meat along with its fat and bones in a large pot and fill it with water that is enough to cover all the components of the soup.

Bring the water to the boiling point and lower the heat while adding vegetables and spices required. Let the broth simmer for 1-2 hours straight for the meat to cook thoroughly. Once the meat is cooked, you can remove it if you don’t want to overcook it so that the bones left behind in the pot can yield a healthier and stronger broth. 

Strain the stock to get rid of the bones and vegetables. Also, slice the cooked meat into edible sized chunks. 

Vegetables sliced in julienne cut. 

Next, slice all root vegetables into matchstick cut that is cutting them into French fries type strips. Make sure to cook the beetroot till it empties out all its red color and the broth is stained deep red. Also, cut potatoes in cube form while cabbage can be sliced thinly. 

Put the pot back on the stove with medium heat and start adding sliced root vegetables and onions. Keep stirring and gradually add potatoes along with carrots. 

Add more water if all the vegetables and meat do not soak in properly. Increase the heat and stir for 15 good minutes. 

Put shredded cabbage and bring the broth to boil while making sure the cabbage remains crispy. Add lemon juice and tomato sauce and ensure that it blends evenly throughout. 

Check if the amount of salt and other spices added are at optimum level and blend well together. Adjust the seasoning according to the level of sweetness and sourness you require. 

Now that the cooking process is done, the borscht soup is ready to be served. But the work here isn’t just done yet. 

Pour the steaming hot soup into the bowl and garnish it with sour cream and other herbs to add tackiness to the sweet flavor. 

Interesting facts about borscht soup

Thick Borscht soup in a white bowl. 

Borscht soup develops taste over time, so it is always wise to cook in large amounts so you can enjoy the borscht batch even the next day!

Borscht soup is supposed to be thicker in texture, so don’t worry if it turns out to be extra thick. 

It has some components that vary in the time period given for them to cook. For instance, cabbage is preferred crispy only because it’s added in the last 15 minutes while potatoes are added in the beginning to be fully cooked. 


Borscht soup is a Ukrainian delicacy famous for the different components that complement each other to make it a mouthwatering dish. Typically, it is made up of meat, tomato paste, beetroot, and other root vegetables. It is cooked till the beetroot color washes away and the broth turns deep red. 

This cuisine has various health benefits, and diet-conscious people usually consume borscht soup as it has low calories. It is gluten free, regulates blood pressure, and prevents stomach/liver related diseases. With numerous health benefits and an unforgettable flavor, the Ukrainian borscht soup is a must try.