Beef Borscht Recipe

This soul warming Beef Borscht is hearty, nourishing and full of flavor! Serve your veggie-packed beet soup with a heaping spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill to complete the dish!

Beef Borscht (which is actually pronounced borsch without the ‘t’ in Russian) is incredibly popular across many Eastern European countries, but actually has its roots in Ukraine. And while there are many regional variations of the delicious beet soup, this is our favorite version and closest in taste to the one Viktor’s babushka used to make. This recipe makes quite a huge pot, so invite your favorite people for dinner or get ready to eat beef borscht for days!

Bowl of beef borscht with chunks of potato, beet and carrot.

Key recipe ingredients

Measured ingredients to make borscht with meat.
  • Beef chuck: Beef chuck is our go-to for this beef borscht, but short ribs would make a great substitute.
  • Onion and garlic: Onion and garlic add depth to the beet broth.
  • Beets: The star of the show! Beets give this borscht its characteristic color and provide an earthy sweetness to the soup.
  • Carrots: Carrots add sweetness to the soup and complement the savory notes from the beef and beets.
  • Cabbage: We are big lovers of cabbage around here! In fact, our last name is derived from the Russian word for cabbage! Cabbage is a traditional ingredient in many borscht recipes and adds texture to the beet soup.
  • Tomato paste: Tomato paste contributes to the vibrant red hue of borscht and also adds a subtle sweetness and acidity that balances the earthy flavor of the beets.
  • Broth: Both beef broth and chicken broth work just fine in this soup. I often use chicken broth because it tends to be more flavorful than store-bought beef broth.
  • Potatoes: Two russet potatoes add another hearty element to the soup. You can substitute baby potatoes or yukon gold potatoes if you’d like.

Equipment: I like to use my dutch oven for this recipe, but any large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid will work just fine!

Step by step instructions

Chopped and prepared beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and cabbage.

Step 1: Prep the vegetables for beef borscht. Thinly slice the onion and mince the garlic. Peel and julienne the carrots and beets, which just means cutting them into long, thin strips. You don’t have to be too precise here — if some are a little chunkier or oddly shaped, your soup will still turn out just fine! Thinly shred the cabbage. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Browning the beef chunks.

Step 2: Cut the beef into large chunks and sear. Generously season the beef chuck pieces with salt and sear in hot oil until well-browned on all sides. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan or you won’t get a nice sear. Work in batches if necessary. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Sauteed carrots and onion in pot.

Step 3: Cook the carrots and onion. Give them some time here! You want to lightly caramelize the onion and carrots to really build up that depth of flavor. Once they look caramelized, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, just a minute or two more.

Mixing the beets and cabbage into the pot.

Step 4: Stir in the tomato paste, then add the beets and cabbage. Mix well. Be patient; it can take a few minutes to get everything fully combined.

Borscht ingredients in pot before cooking.

Step 5: Add the broth, water and seared meat. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer until the beef is very tender. This generally takes about 1.5-2 hours. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer.

Adding the potatoes to the pot.

Step 6: Add the potatoes. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Storage and reheating

Beef borscht can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat the borscht, transfer it to a small pot and heat on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through.

Beef borscht can also be frozen for up to three months. Just make sure to leave out the garnishes (sour cream and fresh dill) until serving! Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Expert tips and tricks

  • Don’t overcrowd the pot when searing the beef. Overcrowding makes it difficult to achieve proper browning, which means you’re losing out on flavor in the beef borscht.
  • Tips for working with beets: You can wear gloves to avoid stained hands. And a layer of parchment paper will help save your cutting boards from looking like a crime scene.
  • Be patient. This soup tastes best if you give the carrots and onions some time (15-20 minutes) to caramelize a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • The simmer times are a guideline. If your beef isn’t as tender as you’d like, let it cook an additional half hour.

Recipe variations

  • Make it vegetarian: Leave out the beef and use vegetable broth to make a vegetarian-friendly borscht. Add mushrooms for an umami boost if desired.
  • Add beans: If you prefer to make borscht without meat, but still want a little extra protein, try tossing in a can of beans. A lot of borscht recipes call for cannellini, kidney or even lima beans so feel free to switch it up a bit!
  • Use pork instead of beef: Many traditional borscht recipes call for pork and it works really well in this recipe. I recommend using pork shoulder cut into large chunks.
  • Use different vegetables: Completely customize this beef borscht by adding your favorite vegetables. Some great options include bell peppers, parsnips and celery.
Bowl of comforting borscht with dollop of sour cream and fresh dill.

FAQs

What is borscht?

Borscht (борщ) is a hot soup of Ukrainian origin made from beets, which give it its characteristic red color. There are many varieties of borscht with different methods of preparation depending on the region.

Can you freeze borscht?

Yes! Borscht will keep well in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

What should you serve with borscht?

Pampushky (Ukrainian Garlic Rolls) are our favorite thing to serve with beef borscht. Crusty bread would make a great alternative.

Can I make this borscht recipe in the slow cooker?

Yes! To make this recipe in a slow cooker, sear the beef and saute the onion, carrots and garlic per recipe instructions. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the beets, cabbage, broth, water and tomato paste. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours. Add the potatoes for the last hour of cooking.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, in fact beef borscht might just taste better the next day after the flavors have really had time to meld!

Sour cream mixed into bowl of borscht for creamy texture.

Have leftover beets? Make sure to try our beet pickled deviled eggs! And if you loved this beef borscht recipe, here’s some more Russian and Ukrainian recipe inspiration:

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Big bowl of beet borscht with chunks of potatoes and hearty beef pieces.

Beef Borscht Recipe


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Brit Kapustina
  • Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6
    • Prep Time: 20 minutes
    • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
    • Category: Dinner
    • Method: Soup
    • Cuisine: Ukrainian

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds (2.2 kg) beef chuck, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • ½ head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups (1 liter) beef or chicken broth
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • sour cream for serving
  • fresh dill for serving

Instructions

  1. Generously season the beef chuck pieces on all sides with salt.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven or pot* over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beef pieces. Working in batches, sear the beef on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes or until slightly caramelized, stirring often. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add a bit more oil if needed.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or two more. Add the tomato paste and stir until the vegetables are evenly coated.
  5. Add the beets and cabbage and stir until well combined.
  6. Return the seared beef to the pot and add the broth and water.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil. Skim any foam off the top and discard. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  8. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours or until the beef is very tender. Add the potatoes to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  9. Season with salt to taste and serve with sour cream and dill.

Notes

Carrots and beets: The carrots and beets should be cut into sticks roughly about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. 

Pot size: I used a 5 quart (4.7 liter) dutch oven, which was just barely large enough. Something a little larger would be even better.

Storage: Leftover beef borscht can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

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