Ukrainian Borscht

Ukrainian Borscht

Cooks in 1 Hours, 30 Minutes Difficulty Easy 0 comments This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money from the companies mentioned or linked to in this post.

With Ukraine in the news and heavy on my mind, it’s a good time to post a recipe for one of the iconic meals of the region, Ukrainian Borscht. This is a simple recipe with vegetables in beef stock. Yet, borscht can be made in a myriad of ways and has been over the centuries. With meat or without, its profile rose from simple Ukrainian peasant food made with fermented cow-parsnips, sometime between the 5th and 9th centuries, to soup fit for a king, or a tsar, I should say.

Ukrainian borscht spread throughout eastern Europe, including Russia and, eventually, to much of the world. Ashkenazi Jews brought red borscht to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Each region and culture adapted the sour soup to the vegetables and/or meat on hand and their own personal tastes. Borscht can be red, green, or white. It can have tomatoes or not and served hot or cold. Fermented beets create the sourness in the soup. Vinegar or lemon make for a viable and speedy fermentation substitute. Tomatoes add some tang. Cabbage and carrots add sweetness. Want more sweetness? Add a little sugar. Chop, slice, shred or pulverize the vegetables in a blender. There is really no wrong way to make borscht. So, feel free to experiment.

How to make Ukrainian Borscht

For this Ukrainian Borscht recipe, start with a quick stock. You can use commercially prepared or homemade beef or chicken stock or you can do as I did and make a quick broth by braising a beef shank and then simmering it with three bay leaves for an hour. This, in itself, while relatively quick, makes a fairly bland broth. So, after skimming the scum from the top of the water, add a couple beef bullion cubes to pump it up. It tastes great.

While the shank simmers, prepare the vegetables. Start with the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Peel and chop the onion fairly small, slice and chop the celery into about 1/4 inch thick pieces. Mince the garlic, then peel and slice the carrots into 1/4 inch thick coins. Peel the beets and shred or julienne. Core and slice the cabbage about 1/4 inch thick and chop into bite-sized pieces. Lastly, peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, as well.

Sauté the carrots, onion, and celery in butter until the onions soften. Then add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomato paste and brown for about 10 seconds.

When the beef shank has cooked for an hour, remove it from the broth, pick any meat off the bone and put it back in the pot. Skim any scum off the top of the broth and add the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic mixture to the broth, along with the beets and rest of the vegetables.

Vegetables for Ukrainian Borscht
Vegetables for Ukrainian Borscht and Beef Shank for Stock

Flavor it Up

Next, add the flavorings – salt, pepper, vinegar, and sugar. Be sure to taste the broth and adjust the flavorings to your liking. Simmer on low heat until all the vegetables have softened, about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with fresh dill along with some rye bread or a bit of crusty sourdough. Enjoy the juxtaposition of flavors, sweet, salt, sour, and tangy in this healthy, hearty, and fulfilling soup that you’re sure to make again and again. And, be sure to check the notes on the recipe card for some ideas for variations.

Have you tried this recipe? Be sure to rate it on the recipe card. If you have any comments or questions, leave them below. I do my best to get you the answers you need.

Something else you might like: Really Good Gumbo.

Ukrainian Borscht

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Recipe by Kimberly Scott Course: MainCuisine: UkrainianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


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Ukrainian Borscht recipe made with beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables makes a beautifully delicious and nutritious meal


  • Broth Base
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 lb beef shank

  • 10 cups water

  • 2 beef bullion cubes

  • 3 each bay leaves

  • Vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 each onion, medium to large

  • 4 each carrots, medium to large

  • 4 each celery stalks, medium to large

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 each beets, medium to large

  • 1/2 head cabbage, purple, large (or 1 whole head, small)

  • 4 each potatoes, medium to large

  • 1 can tomato paste, 6 oz.

  • Flavorings
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • Garnish
  • 1 cup sour cream

  • fresh dill


  • Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan. Then, add the beef shank and brown each side for about 5 minutes. Then add the water and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves and simmer for one hour.
  • While shank is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop onion fairly small. Cut celery into 1/4 inch slices. Peel and slice carrots into 1/4 inch thick coins. Peel and mince garlic. Peel and julienne beets or shred them on a grater. Peel and cut potatoes into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Slice cored cabbage about 1/4 thick, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • Melt butter in a large frying pan and add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and brown for about ten seconds. Then remove from heat.
  • Remove shank from the pot. Skim any scum from the top of the stock. If there is any meat on the shank bone, pick it off and add the meat back to the pot. Add bullion cubes and stir until they are dissolved.
  • Add the onion, carrot, and celery mixture to the pot along with beets and other vegetables, salt, pepper, vinegar, and sugar. (Be sure to taste the soup broth and and adjust the flavorings as desired.) Simmer on low until all the vegetables have softened.
  • Remove from heat and allow to rest and cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves and serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. Rye bread is great on the side.


  • To make this recipe vegan, use vegetable broth instead of beef and sauté vegetables in vegetable oil instead of butter. Omit sour cream. Vegan variation: Add some cooked beans.
  • Other meat variations: Use a meaty ham hock instead of beef shank. Or, add beef stew meat, chuck roast, chicken, or sausage. Brown and simmer meat until tender and then add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Use prepared beef or chicken stock instead of beef shank and water to speed up cooking time.
  • Store in refrigerator in air tight container for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months. Be sure to leave room in your container for expansion in the freezer.

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Nutritional information is approximate based on online calculators.

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