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Borscht East European Beetroot Soup

Introduction & method

Borscht, or borsch, is claimed as their own by Russia, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania and Ashkenazi Jews, but it's likely that it originated in the Ukraine. It's a hearty soup built around root vegetables and beetroot. Borscht can contain beef or pork, or just vegetables. It's easy to make and delicious.

Borscht East European Beetroot Soup Recipe

Prep the Meat

If you are adding meat, cut it into small cubes or strips, and add it to a large pan with a chopped onion and enough water to cover everything. Bring to the boil and simmer with a lid on for a couple of hours, until the meat is quite tender. Check it now and again and add more water if needed. Alternatively, you can cook the meat in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes.

Prep the Veg

If you are using fresh beetroot, you'll need to cook them at the same time as the meat - they can take about an hour.
Peel and thinly slice an onion, peel and cut the carrot into short batons, slice the celery. Melt a large knob of butter in a big saucepan on low heat, add the same amount of oil, and sweat the onion, celery and carrot with a lid on for 10-15 minutes. You want these veggies to soften a bit but not go brown. Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Do whatever is needed with your other veg to get them into small pieces.

Cook the Soup

When the onions etc have sweated, add the stock, the meat and its cooking liquid, and the remaining vegetables. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomato passata or puree, vinegar, herbs and seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes longer, then taste it. Borscht should be savoury and quite tart. If you are happry with the seasoning, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid somewhat. You should be able to stand a wooden spoon up in the borscht.

Serve with a dollop of soured cream and some fresh dill.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Borscht East European Beetroot Soup on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 450 grams pork or beef
 2-3 beets
 450 grams potatoes
 1 large carrot
 2 sticks celery
 1 kilo other root veg†
 1 litre beef stock
 small handful fresh dill
 1 tsp salt
 1 tsp marjoram
 half a tsp ground black pepper
 4 tbsp tomato puree or passata
 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
 1 tbsp per serving soured cream
 a few sprigs fresh dill


† Use whatever root veg is available - turnip, swede, rutabaga, celeriac, parsnip, etc. You'll also need butter and oil for sautéeing.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 6 -8
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes (if pressure-cooking the meat).
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes.