Borscht is typically known as the Ukrainian soup made with beetroot as the main ingredient. In some Eastern and Central European countries however, borscht is made with tomatoes as the main ingredient with beetroot as a secondary ingredient. Apparently other non-beet varieties also exist (such as green borscht made with sorrel), but this recipe is focused on the tomatoes as the dominant ingredient.Jump to Recipe
What is Borscht?
Borscht is a sour soup common in Eastern Europe. There are a lot of variations to the tart soup known as borscht, but probably the most popular is the Ukrainian version made with red beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which give the dish its distinctive red color.
Borscht may be served either hot or cold, and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink. I liked this soup best at room temperature, as chilling food masks some of the flavor of foods in my opinion.
It is frequently served with sour cream and/or potatoes.
I had recently bought some golden beets at the farmers’ market, so I made the soup with those rather than red beets. Golden beets are a little milder than red beets, and I think next time I make this I would use red beetroot for a more intense color and flavor.
Ingredient Substitutions and Variations
Ukrainian borscht is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sauteed vegetables. Here are some common variations:
- For stock: if you want to make this vegetarian or less robust use a vegetable stock rather than a meat stock;
- For vegetables: typical vegetables that are added or substituted in include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes or tomatoes;
- For meat: sausage or pork is the most frequently added meat, but typically the soup is focused only on the vegetables;
- For garnishes: the classic garnish is sour cream, but sliced hard-boiled eggs are frequently added. A small dumpling known as uszka is also popular.
I’ve never really cared much for beets on their own, but really enjoyed them in this soup. My husband thought it was a bit bland so I might add a little more cumin or other spices next time.
Is Borscht Healthy or Low Carb?
Most root vegetables are not low carb, and beets are no exception. Tomatoes also include a healthy does of fruit sugar, so I would not call borscht low carb. “Healthy” however is very descriptive of borscht!
The specific health metrics depends on which version of borscht you make. If you use meat or a meat stock, it will be packed with protein. Beets are high in iron, carrot and tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6, and cabbage is great for fiber vitamin K & C.
How to Peel and Grate Beets:
- Use gloves, an apron and a washable countertop when handling beets if you want to make sure and avoid the red stain. It is difficult to get out of clothing and porous surfaces (and it stains your fingers for days).
- To peel beets, use a simple potato peeler like this one.
- To grate the peeled beets, I use a classic box grater. You can also use a food processor to grate the beets. It’s just more things to wash.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Borscht freezes exceptionally well. To freeze, allow your soup to cool and store it in a glass mason jar. Be sure to leave an inch or two for expansion. When you’re ready, simply defrost borscht in the refrigerator and heat in a pot.
More Great Recipes Using Beets
Tomato and Beet Borscht
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 medium raw beets about 10 oz., peeled and finely grated
- 1 Teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin seeds see notes for toasting method
- ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2-3 medium red robust heirloom tomatoes like Box Car Willy, Thessoloniki, etc., skinned and chopped
- 1 Cup tomato juice
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes can soak in warm water first to soften before chopping
- 2 Cups vegetable stock
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in heavy pan or skillet over low heat. Saute onion for 4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add grated beets To skillet and cook gently for 10 minutes longer, stirring from time to time, until softened but not browned.
- Add ground spices, tomatoes, tomato juice, and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan and then pour in the stock. Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and let cool down a bit.
- Blend or process until velvety smooth. Stir in soy sauce, taste and and then add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve either chilled, at room temperature, or slightly warmed. To serve, spoon into soup bowls and add a spoonful of sour cream or creme fraiche, and garnish with toasted cumin seeds