icon Classic Russian Borshch

The Borshch is a soup made with beetroot as the main ingredient, which gives it a deep reddish-purple color. Russian-style borshch usually includes beets, meat, cabbage and sometime potatoes. The Ukrainian-style variety is based on either chicken or other meat bouillon, made with red beets, cabbage and tomato sauce, served with pampushki (small hot breads topped with garlic) and sour cream.

The english spelling of name is a bit difficult to transcribe, because the Latin alphabet is missing an equivalent letter for the Cyrillic character Щ ("shch"). We think that the closest English spelling should be "borshch", not "borscht" or "borsc" as it is most often written in English.

Here is a classic recipe we like. The beef broth should be made according to instructions, but canned broth can be substituted if in a hurry.

For the broth

  • 1 1/2 lb beef chuck roast boneless
  • 1 lb beef marrow bones
  • 1 lb ham bone meaty
  • 1 onion large grated
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 3 water
  • 1 turnip peeled & grated
  • 1 celery rib w/leaves sliced
  • 3 dill sprigs
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 12 black peppercorns whole
  • 4 bay leaves

For the soup

  • 3 large beets, peeled grated
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 16 oz plum tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 prunes, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bacon strips, fried and crumbled
  • 2 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
  • 3 tbsp dill, freshly chopped


  1. Place the celery, dill, parsely, beppercorns, bay leaves, potatoes in a small cloth bag, tie the bag and put in a large stock pot. Add the meat bones, meat, and water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam as needed.
  2. Add the remaining stock ingredients, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Wash, dry, and peel the beets. Wrap them in aluminum foil and bake in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool and cut into 1/4"-sized pieces.
  4. Remove the ham bone, meat & marrow bones from the stock. Set the marrow bones aside. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a clean pot. Discard the solids. Bring the stock to a boil, add the tomatoes, potatoes and salt & pepper and cook for 10 minutes on low heat covered.
  5. Cook the onions, carrots and bell pepper in a cast iron skillet for approx. 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and continue to cook the vegetables for 10 more minutes.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat and add to the stock. Sprinkle the juice of 1 lemon over the beets and add them to the stock. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and honey to the stock and continue to cook.
  7. Remove the meat from the bones, strip the marrow out of the marrow bones, and cut the beef into 1/2"-inch pieces. Add all of this to the stock and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  8. Garnish with sour cream and serve

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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.