Traditional Ukrainian borscht: history, variations, recipes

Borscht is a traditional Ukrainian beet and cabbage soup which is very popular in many Central and Eastern European cuisines. Variations of this dish can be different not only from country to country, but also from one Ukrainian region to another. It is also said that every Ukrainian family has original borscht recipe of its own.

History of Ukrainian borscht

There isn’t any reliable information about borsch origin, but the mention of it dates back to Cossack times (XV-XVI centuries).

The legend says that the first-ever borscht was cooked during the two-month siege of Cossacks fortress, occupied by Turkish army.

In order to feed four hundred people Cossacks collected everything edible around (vegetables) and added it to meat broth. The course was nourishing, quick, easy and tasty enough to become popular and permanent in Cossacks and then Ukrainian and European ration.

Borscht variations

The difference between different types of borscht consists in main ingredient. The main ingredient for the authentic borscht is beetroot. But this course can be also cooked with tomato or cabbage as main ingredients. In some Ukrainian regions there is also sorrel variation (sorrel replaces cabbage).

Classic Ukrainian borscht can also be hot or cold.

Hot borscht is cooked with a pork or beef (rarely chicken) broth. It usually contains beet/tomatoes/cabbage/carrots/potatoes in different combinations.

Cold borscht is often vegetarian borscht (it is cooked without meat broth) and apart from vegetables may contain chopped hard-boiled eggs and different kinds of culinary plants (parsley or dill).

How to cook classic borscht

Borscht is a really wonderful course. You can combine various ingredients and each time get different and very tasty dish. Below you will find the recipe given by Ukrainian family, living in the eastern part of the country.


To cook hot borscht you need to take:

  • Meat (beef or pork) – 1 kg;
  • Potato – 500 g;
  • Cabbage – 300 g;
  • Beetroot – 400 g;
  • Carrot – 200 g;
  • Onion – 200 g;
  • Tomato paste – 3 tbsp;
  • Garlic – 3 cloves;
  • Bay leaf;
  • Salt;
  • Pepper;
  • Vegetable fat;
  • Culinary plants.

Step by step instruction

Prepare the broth first. Put meat into the saucepan with 3-4 liters of water and boil it for two hours. Take meat out of the saucepan and cut it into pieces or dice. Put them into the broth.

preparing meet broth

If you want to cook vegetarian borscht you just skip this step and use 3-4 liters of water.

Chop up onions, carrots.

chop onions and carrotsCut cabbage and beetroot into sticks.

cut cabbage

cut beetrootTake frying-pan, add some vegetable fat and slightly fry beetroot, then add tomato paste and stew for 5-7 minutes.

frying vegetables with tomato pasteTake another frying-pan, add some vegetable fat and slightly fry onions for 2-3 minutes, add carrots and fry for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

frying onions and carrotsCut potatoes into dice and boil broth. Put potatoes into boiling broth, season with salt.

put potatoes and cabbage to broth

Add cabbage in a few minutes and boil for about 5 minutes.

add beetroot and tomato paste

Add beetroot mixed with tomato paste and boil for another 10 minutes.

Add onions with carrots, bay leaf, minced garlic, pepper, culinary plants (you can add other spices).

Remove from heat, wait for 15-20 minutes and serve borscht.

You can cook this red soup in crockpot — the dish will have a great taste anyway.

How to serve borscht

Ukrainians usually eat borscht with rye bread and sour cream. Some of them also like cured pork fat salo and bunch onion with borscht. You can choose any variant you like or just eat this tasty soup without any adding.

ready to serve borscht

Ukrainians adore to eat borscht with pampushki — small buns made of yeasted dough (often with garlic sauce).

Is borscht healthy?

Ukrainians like their traditional beet soup not only because it is very tasty and can be cooked in many different variations. Borscht is really hearty and nutrient rich. It is very important for those who work hard. Hot basic borscht will help to warm up in winter and cold borscht will refresh in summer.

Vegetables used for borscht are rich in vitamins; meat is a great source of protein. This dish will give you energy and strength for all the day.

Liked it? Share it!
  • 22
  • 10