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Easy Vegetarian Borscht Soup

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This easy one-pot vegetarian borscht recipe only takes 30 minutes to make! Delicious and wholesome winter beet soup full of nutrients makes for an easy lunch or weekday dinner. 

Vegetarian Borscht on a plate with a spoon.

 

What is Borscht?

Borscht is a hearty beet soup that is loaded with a variety of vegetables (largely in season during cold weather). It is wholesome, flavorful, healthy and perfect for the fall and winter seasons.

There is nothing like a warming bowl of this purple-red hearty soup with a spoonful of sour cream on top. It makes you feel cozy and warm and makes your home smell awesome. No wonder it’s a favorite in Slavic countries with their cold winters!

Borscht is nutrient-dense and yet very comforting, so I normally take more than one serving at a time (to be completely honest with you, I might have had two and a half bowls of it today).

Is It Borsch or Borscht?

Borscht (pronounced bawr-sch) is also spelled borch, borsch, borshch, borsht, bortsch, and борщ which are all different spellings of the same word.

Wikipedia says that the English spelling of the word “borscht” derives from Yiddish.

Borscht is also known as barszcz (Polish), barščiai (Lithuanian) and borş (Romanian and Moldovan).

Closeup of a ladle of borscht.

When Should You Serve Russian Beet Soup?

Since you can make it in less than half an hour, the answer is “any time you want to!”

It looks so pretty and is festive enough to serve it for holidays, quick and simple enough to enjoy for a weekday meal. In fact, in Slavic nations, it is a traditional lunch dish (as are many soups).

While in some parts of the world soup is a winter staple, borscht is eaten all year round in Slavic households. There are many variations of it depending on what is in season.

You can even make a delicious chilled borscht in the summertime that uses buttermilk instead of broth as a base and is served with hard-boiled eggs.

Is Borscht Russian or Ukrainian?

Borsch originates from Ukraine but it became popular in Russia as well, having acquired new flavors and ways to cook it. 

It is considered both Russian and Ukrainian, with deep roots in cultures of both countries and becoming a beloved staple throughout Eastern Europe.

The main difference is that in Ukraine you serve it with pampushki (Ukrainian garlic bread) and garlic-infused lard (salo). In Russia it is more common to eat vegetarian borscht and serve it with rye bread.

Two plates with borscht next to a pot and carrots surrounded with sliced rye bread.

What Does Borscht Taste Like?

This healthy beet soup has a distinct combination of sweet and sour flavors.

The sweetness of beets is balanced with a little acidic note of either tomatoes or lemon juice (I use both).

While some recipes use meat, I like to make my borscht vegan, or at least vegetarian. Many households across Eastern Europe do the same, making it a very budget-friendly recipe.

How Do You Make Borscht?

Each family has its own borscht recipe. If you ask 1000 Ukrainian housewives about how to cook Ukrainian borscht, you will get 1000 different versions (and all of them will be delicious!).

While there is no one authentic recipe, there are traditional ingredients (and they are combined in a variety of ways, so each pot has its own personality).

Some add mushrooms, some beans, others smoked ham or fish. Borscht can be made with meat broth, may be vegetarian or vegan, may be with tomatoes or tomato paste, bell peppers, celery, and can even be eaten cold.

Traditionally, first you make beef broth, then Ukrainian “sofrito” with julienned, diced or grinded veggies, then combine and add potatoes and cabbage.

It whips up in just half an hour and is ready to go right away. Serve it with a spoonful of sour cream and chopped fresh dill. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy it with a slice of toasted rye bread or pampushki (Ukrainian garlic bread)!

What Are The Ingredients in Borscht?

The main ingredient is red beets! They are one of the most unreasonably underused root vegetables.

Red beet has a number of health benefits being rich in nutrients and dietary fiber.

Red beets give this soup its ruby color and sweetish flavor. To make it even more intensely colored I add lemon juice to the soup.

While there are many variations, this recipe is our family’s favorite.

Vegetables for borscht

  • carrots
  • onions
  • red beets
  • potatoes
  • white cabbage
  • minced garlic

Vegetables for vegan borscht.

Additional ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and avocado oil are perfect)
  • broth (I use vegetable broth)
  • bay leaves
  • lemon juice
  • tomato paste

Additional ingredients for borscht.

Garnishes for borscht

  • chopped dill
  • sour cream to garnish
  • rye bread to serve
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Garnishes for borscht.

Can You Make Borscht Vegan?

To make your borscht vegan, simply omit the sour cream or use vegan substitutes. As you can see, this healthy beet soup is loaded with veggies for delicious flavor!

Why Is Beet Soup Healthy?

Borscht is nutrient-dense and can be a part of a calorie-controlled diet. It contains a variety of vegetables like carrots, onions, beet roots, cabbage and more. These veggies are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

This delicious beet soup even helps you regulate blood pressure and protects heart, liver and stomach.

On top of that, this soup is naturally gluten free and low in calories and very easy to make vegan.

A Hand holding a spoon with Russian beet borscht.

Tips For Making This Healthy Vegetarian Borscht Recipe

How To Prepare Beets

Beets will stain your hands, so be sure to wear kitchen gloves! The easiest way to prepare beets is to peel them and grate them in your food processor or on a grater. You can also cut them into fine slices.

Red Beets for Russian Borscht Soup.
How To Store Borscht

Borscht can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days in an airtight container. The beet soup will stain plastic, so glass is best. Feel free to store it in the pot were it was cooked.

To reheat it, microwave it in a bowl/plate or warm in a pot on the stove.

Yesterday’s borscht tastes the best, so it makes sense to make a big batch. The flavors intensify as they have time to combine and it’s a dish that tastes better each time you serve a new bowl.

How To Freeze Borscht

After you make your beet soup, let it cool completely. Then ladle it into your storage bags. Freeze it in sealed bags or containers for up to 2 months. 

*Keep in mind that potatoes and cabbage might change their texture after freezing.

How To Prep Ahead & Save Time

If you would like, you can freeze the cooked “sofrito” and use it every time you want to make borscht.

How To Serve It

Serve this vegetarian borscht with (vegan) sour cream and crusty rye bread. It’s common to serve Russian pickled tomatoes and Russian dill pickles along with it.

Closeup of a plate with borscht garnished with dill and sour cream.

 

Cook’s Tips

  • Beets will stain your hands (and your cutting board), so be sure to wear kitchen gloves.
  • You can either dice the carrots and beets or grate them with a box grater. If you choose to dice them, use this veggie chopper to save time.
  • Borscht can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days. To reheat it, microwave it in a bowl/plate or warm in a pot on the stove. Yesterday’s borscht tastes the best, so it makes sense to make a big batch.
  • This soup is a perfect ONE-POT meal prep meal which only requires 30 minutes to make! Freeze it in sealed bags or containers for up to 2 months. Keep in mind that potatoes and cabbage might change their texture after freezing.
  • Alternatively, you can freeze the cooked “sofrito” and use it every time you want to make borscht.
  • Serve it with a spoonful of (vegan) sour cream and chopped fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy it with a slice of toasted rye bread or pampushki (Ukrainian garlic bread)!

A ladle of vegan borscht in a large red pot.

Recipe Variations

  • Use any of the following vegetable oils for sautéeing your veggies: olive, sunflower, canola or avocado oil.
  • You can skip the potatoes to make the soup low carb.
  • This soup is traditionally made with beef broth. You can use both beef and vegetable broth for this recipe.
  • Add beans or mushrooms to make the soup more hearty.
  • Some variations of borscht include bell peppers, celery and tomatoes.
  • Make chilled borscht in summer using buttermilk instead of broth and serve it with hard-boiled eggs.

MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Serve it with gluten-free bread or rye croutons.

MAKE IT VEGAN: Skip the sour cream or use vegan substitutes.

MAKE IT QUICK: Make the cooked “sofrito” in advance and freeze it, then use it every time you want to make borscht.

MAKE IT OIL-FREE: Instead of sautéeing veggies in oil, add a bit of hot water/broth to the veggies and steam them. Add water as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pot.

Here is the full recipe (and a video recipe) of this vegan borscht for you to enjoy! If you can’t see the video, disable your AdBlock for this page by clicking on the AdBlock button and selecting Don’t run on this page.

Let me know how you like the recipe in the comments down below. If you like it, make sure to give it a rating!

 

 
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4.62 from 34 votes

Easy Russian Borscht Recipe

This easy one-pot vegetarian Russian Borscht recipe only takes 30 minutes to make! Delicious and wholesome winter soup full of nutrients!
Course Soup
Cuisine Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword beet soup, borscht, borscht recipe, borscht soup, Russian borscht, Ukrainian borscht, vegan borscht, vegetarian borscht
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 75kcal
$5

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil olive, sunflower, canola or avocado oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 medium-sized red beets
  • 2 qt or 2 liters vegetable broth
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/4 white cabbage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • (vegan) sour cream to garnish
  • rye bread to serve

Instructions

  • Dice your onion, carrots, beets, potatoes and chop cabbage. Use this veggie chopper to save time. You can also grate your carrots and beets with a box grater.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil, diced onions, carrots and beets and sautée for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add hot vegetable broth, diced potatoes, chopped cabbage and bay leaves to the pot, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice, tomato paste, minced garlic, chopped dill and salt and pepper to the pot. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Let rest with the lid on for 15 more minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with a spoonful of (vegan) sour cream and more fresh dill. Serve with rye bread. Enjoy!

Notes

Cook’s Tips

  • Beets will stain your hands (and your cutting board), so be sure to wear kitchen gloves.
  • You can either dice the carrots and beets or grate them with a box grater. If you choose to dice them, use this veggie chopper to save time.
  • Borscht can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days. To reheat it, microwave it in a bowl/plate or warm in a pot on the stove. Yesterday's borscht tastes the best, so it makes sense to make a big batch.
  • This soup is a perfect ONE-POT meal prep meal which only requires 30 minutes to make! Freeze it in sealed bags or containers for up to 2 months. Keep in mind that potatoes and cabbage might change their texture after freezing.
  • Alternatively, you can freeze the cooked “sofrito” and use it every time you want to make borscht.
  • Serve it with a spoonful of (vegan) sour cream and chopped fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy it with a slice of toasted rye bread or pampushki (Ukrainian garlic bread)!
 

Recipe Variations

  • Use any of the following vegetable oils for sautéeing your veggies: olive, sunflower, canola or avocado oil.
  • You can skip the potatoes to make the soup low carb.
  • This soup is traditionally made with beef broth. You can use both beef and vegetable broth for this recipe.
  • Add beans or mushrooms to make the soup more hearty.
  • Some variations of borscht include bell peppers, celery and tomatoes.
  • Make chilled borscht in summer using buttermilk instead of broth and serve it with hard-boiled eggs.
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Serve it with gluten-free bread or rye croutons.
MAKE IT VEGAN: Skip the sour cream or use vegan substitutes.
MAKE IT QUICK: Make the cooked “sofrito” in advance and freeze it, then use it every time you want to make borscht.
MAKE IT OIL-FREE: Instead of sautéeing veggies in oil, add a bit of hot water/broth to the veggies and steam them. Add ater aas needed to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pot.

Equipment

Dutch oven
chef's knife
veggie chopper
cutting board
spatula
ladle
garlic press

Nutrition

Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1010mg | Potassium: 224mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3163IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg
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A Ladle of Russian vegetarian borscht soup Pinterest Collage.

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About Elena Szeliga

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Elena Szeliga is the founder of Happy Kitchen.Rocks, where she shares delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan food, from weeknight dinners to veganized classics and gourmet appetizers. Her recipes have been featured at Better Homes & Gardens, BuzzFeed, Country Living, The Kitchn and Reader’s Digest. Her mission is to help cook easy vegetarian and vegan meals with simple and fresh ingredients. Read more about Elena.

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