Borscht soup is a dish that has as many variations as it does cooks, my version is Russian in influence & features beetroot, beef & cabbage.
It is a dish that takes a while to cook (around 2 hours), but it is all very easy and low maintenance.
Russian Beef and Beetroot Borscht
I have to confess that I am as guilty of pre-judging food as any and my thoughts on this classic beetroot soup recipe from Central and Eastern Europe were definitely clouded by my dislike of beetroot.
Ok, dislike is a strong word! I don’t dislike beetroot, I find it incredibly overpowering.
So I have always looked at those lurid pink iterations of borscht through a face like a slapped bottom!
This recipe is different, it is inspired by probably my favourite restaurant find in the last 10 years! A Russian restaurant with seats for just 16 in Szolnok called Balaika if you find yourself in that neck of the woods check it out. You know, as you do!
Of course, the main ingredient of borscht is beetroot, well not always apparently.
There are a whole smorgasbord of variants out there. Ranging from green borscht, which uses everything from sorrel to dandelion leaves to Gerogrian Borscht which uses green peppers and often chilli!
But this recipe is definitely a beetroot version and the soup tastes that way. But the beef, tomato and carrots all add a great deal and the soup is not as good without them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use beef stock instead of boiling the beef?
That was my first approach when developing this recipe and it was an abject failure, I would advise you not to do this!
Can I make this in advance?
Yes, it will store in the fridge for 2-3 days without any problems, just pop it into an airtight container.
You can also freeze this soup, it will last for up to 3 months in the freezer and still be at its best.
How many people does this soup serve?
This borscht recipe will serve 4 as a main course soup, if you want to serve it for lunch you will get 6-8 portions out of it.
I usually serve 2 large portions then have the rest for lunch over the next couple of days.
Is beef in borscht really traditional?
Yes absolutely, as I have mentioned above there are as many variants of borscht as there are cooks, and some of them don’t even use beetroot.
My version is based on the best borscht I have ever eaten, it came from a small Russian restaurant and the owner swears by the addition of beef!
Like most soup recipes, this beef and beetroot borscht needs very little on the side to make it a satisfying meal.
I have added sour cream and dill but apart from that it pretty much stands on its own. If I can’t find dill I will add snipped chives instead.
Bread is always a nice option with soup and I will often add some on the side of this dish.
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
- 28cm or 11″ frying pan.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
- Fine mesh sieve.
- Stirring spoon, serving spoons and forks to shred the beef.
A traditional borscht soup comes from Ukraine, my version is inspired by a Russian variant from a local Russian restaurant!
- 300g (10oz) Beef Shin
- 1½ Litres (1½-1⅔ Quarts) Water
- 2 (300-350g total) Medium Onions
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 300g (1½-2 Cups) Beetroot
- 200g (1⅓ Cup) Potato
- 100g (¾-1) Cabbage
- 100g (⅔ Cup) Carrot
- 1 (100g) Medium Tomato
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 1½ Tsp Salt
- Place the water in a 20cm or 8" saucepan with a whole onion (don't bother peeling it but remove the stringy bits of the root), bay leaf, beef shin and salt.
- Bring the pan to a boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cook over a low heat for an hour skimming off any residue/foam periodically.
- Peel and cut the beetroot into fine matchsticks
- Peel the potato and cut it into 1.5cm (½") bite-sized pieces.
- After an hour strain the beef stock and discard the bay leaf and onion.
- Shred the beef with two forks, discard and fat and sinew, and return the meat to the stock it to the stock.
- Add in the shredded beetroot and potatoes and cook for 30 minutes.
- Finely dice the second onion.
- Shred the cabbage as finely as you can.
- Grate the carrot and tomato.
- 15 minutes after the shredded beets and potatoes have gone into the stock add a frying pan to a medium high heat.
- Add the oil to a 28cm or 11" frying pan, then fry the carrot and onion and fry for 10 minutes.
- Add the carrot and onion to the soup along with the shredded cabbage and tomato and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 288mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 23g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.