Delicious borscht soup made with fresh red beets, beef shank, onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, dill, and sour cream.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 8 cups beef broth or beef stock*
  • 1 pound slice of bone-in beef shank with a lot of meat
  • 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
  • 4 large beets, peeled, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*Use gluten-free broth if you are cooking gluten-free


1 Put 4 cups of the beef broth, shank, and quartered onion in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

2 Remove the meat from the pot. Remove any bone, connective tissue, and excess fat. Chop up the meat, place in a bowl, and chill in the refrigerator. Let the broth cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator and let chill until cold—4 hours to up to a day.

3 When the broth is chilled, any fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Remove and discard this fat. Return the pot to the stove and add the remaining broth, the carrots, beets, and the diced potato. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

4 Add the chopped meat to the pot, the sliced cabbage, and a half cup of the fresh dill. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the cabbage is cooked through. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve ladled into bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill.

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  • beckiwithani

    When I was in Russia in college, my host mom used to make “xolodny borshch” – cold borscht – because it was summer. It was amazing with a big dollop of sour cream and tons of fresh dill. This recipe looks great. Thanks!

  • Pille

    I love borscht – it’s a very common soup here in Estonia! I made borscht last Monday, and again yesterday. I prefer mine meatless – beetroot soups have so much flavour on their own, I think.. I’ve already blogged about beetroot soups (borscht and otherwise) on my blog a few times, so I need to think twice from now on before posting another beet soup recipe :)

  • Ellie

    Having only this weekend become a beetroot convert and finally discovering how delicious it can be, I’m eager to try new ways of enjoying it – I’ll have to add this to the list of beet recipes that I’ve been collecting over the past few days :D

  • Alycia

    My family’s been debating over borscht recipes this whole past year. My grandmother’s recipe uses pork bones with lemon juice to sour it up. My aunt’s recipe uses beef and vinegar. (I’ve even read some recipes that use beet kvaas – a fermented sour beet drink.) Either way, it’s always appreciated when someone brings over a pot. Serve with lots of sour cream and fresh pepper – instant happy.

  • amy mom of 5

    I only wish my family liked more of the things that I like. I would love to try this!! Maybe soon.

  • Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    I always hated beets when I was growing up, but now I adore them. I’m going to have to try borscht!

  • Eva

    Wow! I grew up eating a big bowl of Borscht with a piping hot piroshki almost every weekend at a Russian campground my family belonged to (though we’re not Russian ourselves). Alas, they stopped serving it about 7 years ago, and now we only get it a few times a year.
    I met my husband and his family there, and have been filching recipes from them ever since. Unfortunately, no one in my husband’s family eats beets, so my in-laws, and now my husband and I, make it without beets (I know – it’s probably illegal in some Slavic regions!) Instead, we add a green pepper, tomato paste, and extra potatoes. It’s a delicious version, but just not the same as with the beets.
    This post was like being struck by a bolt of lightning! Just seeing that rich purple-red soup made my mouth water (literally) and brought up so many wonderful memories. I’ll be home with my family this weekend – and thanks to your post, I’ll be making borscht with as many beets as I can fit into the pot!

  • Vix

    Coming from a Polish family, I can’t wait to try this version of borscht! Also, instead of using red-wine vinegar try using some of the juice from a can of pickled beets! It’s what my mother uses and it always comes out delectable.

  • Petro

    How to improve Borshch

    1. Simple…. just add a couple of slices of ham… no… not the hormone/preservatives filled kind… try to find a Polish/Ukrainian deli/grocery store… they should sell the real ham smoked using the wood of fruit trees… the juices from ham will balance out the sour taste in Borshch nicely. I’d add the ham about 15 mins before the Borshch is done.

    2. MOST IMPORTANT… the Borshch always tastes best the next day… really! It’s the way it should be served!

    Also, I highly recommend trying the “Green Borshch.” I’m not joking… it’s the name in Ukrainian.

    Here is the recipe…,ukrainian_zelany_borshch.phtml

  • Jessica

    That sounds delicious! Our nanny is from Georgia (Soviet) and gave me her recipe to try a couple weeks ago. Oh so delicious! Some differences between hers and your friend’s recipe is that she grates the carrots and beets and, instead of dill, she likes to use fresh parsley and fresh cilantro. However, she says that in Georgia they LOVE fresh herbs and you could add a bunch of fresh dill, as well. Also, her recipe calls to use stewing beef and to boil the beef until nearly done and then use that broth as the broth for the soup. I’m not convinced on that aspect (tough beef), but regardless… what a soup!

  • Dana

    You know, I’m of Russian and Hungarian heritage, and yet I’ve never tried borscht!! How bizarre is that? I’ll have to give this a try…for my ancestors sake :).

  • Wendy

    I’m trying to like beetroot. I really really am trying. :)

  • Jean

    I made this recipe last night, to the raves of my Ukrainian adopted girls. It was the best recipe I have found, as the others were lacking in, well, taste! This is rich, sweet and savory. I have added it to my “most excellent recipes” file!

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    That’s a really lovely bowl and photo, Elise.

  • Leslie

    Yum! This looks so tasty. I’m spending a year in Russia (I’m American), and I definitely agree with above commenters that there are as many recipes for borscht as there are Russians. Some people add tomatoes, some add bell peppers; some use pork, some beef, some no meat at all… and there’s even a mysterious difference between Russian and Ukrainian borscht (or at least in the packets of ready-mixed spices and seasonings they sell here) that I haven’t quite worked out.

    Russians who have been to America love to tell me how our soups “just don’t compare” to Russian ones (and for the most part, it’s true – soup is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Russian cuisine!), but I doubt even the best Russian home cook would find fault with yours!

    One other common Russian beetroot recipe that I LOVE: a simple cold salad of chopped boiled beetroot, diced prunes, and chopped walnuts, usually topped with mayonnaise, sour cream, or oil (I like mine with oil and a touch of vinegar as well). It sounds a little weird, but it’s great!

  • Dianne Brown

    I made this wonderful recipe and served it last night with some crusty rolls. My husband and I really enjoyed it. Such a nice change from our usual Mediterranean style of eating. I did find the beets needed to cook about twice as long before becoming tender however. We love beets; I make beet risotto on occasion. The borscht is beautiful and delicious! Thank you!

  • Robin

    Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories! I first made borscht when I lived in the Russian-Eastern European Studies House (Slavianskii Dom) on the Stanford campus – and scorched it terribly. My attempts since have been much more successful and with this cold, blustery weather in Sacramento, it’s time for another attempt! My 2 y.o. son just ate beets (chioggia) for the first time last night, so I think we’re ready to introduce him to borscht. Plus the beets are looking mighty fine at the Saturday farmer’s market…

  • Lynne

    Funny you should send this recipe today! I am in the process of putting together a family recipe scrapbook and I have, of course, added Borscht to the book (my Dad is Ukrainian). My Dad tells me that ‘winter borscht’ contains white beans in it–interesting! He says there is also ‘spring borscht’ made with young beet leaves. It’s such a versatile and great soup. We just had some tonight–I can mine for enjoyment thoughout the winter. Thanks for your version–it is very similar to our own family recipe.

  • Anastasia

    I’ve just cooked a lovely pot of borscht yesterday:) What is a very important thing to do while cooking borscht is to make a “zazharka” – the fry-up. While the broth (or just water as you can make a vegetarian borscht) is heating up you need to saute in corn oil or lard finely chopped carrots and onion; then you mix in tomato paste or chopped fresh tomatoes and saute until the color of the oil is red. Same time: saute in oil or lard finely chopped beetroot; spray it with lemon juice so the color stays bright. Then the ingredients are recommended to be put in broth in the following direction: first – potatoes cut in cubes (30 minutes prior to the end of cooking). Then cabbages cut in stripes (20 minutes prior to end of cooking). Then goes the beetroot (15 minutes before end). Then – the “zazharka” (10 minutes before end). Then 5 minutes before end – several black peppers and a couple of laurel leafs. Then you leave the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. Then – you may eat it seasonned with sourcream and dill.

    But it definitely gets better the day after))

    And there definitely are a thousand ways to cook it:) And everyone will tell that the way he does is the one and only to do)

  • Olga

    For a richer flavor you can use overgrown dill: the coarse stems, the tiny yellow flowers, the seeds – just about everything except the roots :)

  • PamC.

    Does it matter if you use green or red cabbage?

  • sarah

    I elise,

    If you like Borscht, you may want to try dill soup, very simple with potatoes and dill. You can also add pieces of ham, but wash the dill very well! Last time I made it and I ended up with sand at the bottom of the pot!

  • Anna

    I eat Borscht all the time- I went a bit nuts a few days ago and made 3 types of borscht- cold Lithuanian borscht, regular hot borscht like this one pictured here but we have our own recipe for it, and some green broscht. It was the first time I tried cold Lithuanian style borscht- it has yogurt/sour cream/ buttermilk type of base, is served cold with some egg on top. It’s really good actually but requires constant seasoning to get it just right. I would love to see you try more Soviet/ Easter European recipes or your take on something like Herring Under Fur Coat.

  • Erica

    I discovered by accident of what was in the fridge that store-bought tzatziki (or homemade if you have it) is a great addition to borscht…cucumber, dill and yogurt sub out very nicely for the sour cream. Yum! My favorite part is stirring the tzatziki (or sour cream) into the soup to give my daughter “pink soup”.

  • Arno

    Today I made a spring borscht, all the usual ingredients plus beet tops and apple. If you don’t have the tops, add chard. Lovely.

  • Lilia

    I totally agree with Anastasia that beets as well as onion and carrot mix should be pre-fried. Other wise beets are not going to be soft and might lose the color. I also add chopped garlic glove and a few bay leaves 5 min prior the end.

  • Michelle

    Hi!I am actually making Borscht as I type and stumbled across your recipe version to see what differences my recipe may have from others. I make a beef stock using a beef sirloin roast (bone-in)with onions and chives plus 2 cups of beef stock and plenty of water (about 5 cups). When that is done I toss in shredded cabbage and diced potatoes while I prep the rest. Before I combine all the ingredients I sautee onions, beets, carrots, shredded celery (sometimes no celery)and tomatoes in sunflower oil for about 10 minutes. I add tomato paste (2 Tblsp.) and brown or regular sugar(1-2 Tblspn.) and cider vinegar (1 Tblsp). It softens the beets and forces the color into the other vegetables. I add fresh parsley for herbs, pepper, salt and finally garnish with the parsley and the sour cream when serving. Thanks for posting this! It is neat to see all the different ways of making borscht.

  • Patricia Ross

    I loved this borscht recipe, the only things I changed was using short ribs that have been braised first and adding a can of diced tomatoes. It turned out most yummy!!

  • Ksenya

    Nice recipe, but a few comments. Either roast or saute the vegetables beforehand–it really intensifies the flavors; potatoes cooked for 45 minutes will turn to mush, 20 min. is usually enough. My Russian grandmother also added parsnip or celery root, and a ham bone (a hamhock will do just as well). Borsch recipes can create a lot of conflict. I was born in the US (grandparents left after the Revolution), but was married to a “new” Russian. He hated my borsch, I hated his (mine was deep red, his was pink and mostly cabbage!), we had several heated arguments about this, and for the 6 years we were married never made it again.

  • Tatyana

    The recipe has the ingredients about right. However, I was dissapointed in their recommended steps to incorporating the beets. Anyone who has ever cooked beets knows that they’re practically impossible to chop until they’re boiled and tender. I definately boiled mine first and then cut them up. I dont even want to think about how long it would have taken me to chop them if I hadn’t. If you end up taking my advice but still want to use the recipe above, make sure you throw in the beets later than you do potato and carrots. I chose to throw in the beets 20 minutes after the other vegetables and they turned out perfect.

  • Liane

    This recipe turned out tasty and I love beets, but for all the effort of boiling, cooling, skimming, re-boiling etc., I don’t think I’ll make it again. On the prep side, I used a really sharp knife to cut the raw beets and it was no trouble at all. I also thought about substituting parsnips for carrots but then went with carrots. If someone else used parsnips I’d be interested in hearing how it tasted.

  • Christine

    Just when I was getting ready to cook some borscht, I noticed I had all my ingredients but the cabbage. Is there an alternative to the cabbage? Or can it be left out completely? I’m wondering how much of an impact the cabbage has on the overall flavor of the soup.

    Borscht is a hearty peasant soup that is made in many ways. You can certainly make a borscht without cabbage, including this one. ~Elise

  • Kat

    Ok, this is just amazing
    but first of all, its not borscht but BORSCH (without t) and second, borsch is a traditional Ukrainian food.. anyways, most of you don’t care about this. So just cook it and enjoy!

  • Ksenia Everton

    I grew up having Borsch almost constantly at home. Like other commenters have said, it can be made in many different ways from whatever you have at home. Most of the time my mom’s was vegetarian. Beets were slowly boiled separately until tender, then pealed and coarsely shredded when cool enough to handle. The rest of the soup was then made with whatever was around (potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, sometimes even beans) and beets were added at the very end. Borsch always tastes better after a day or two.

  • Mom In The Sierras!

    Borscht (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, barszcz, or borshch) as per Wikipedia.

    Delicious, however you spell it!!!!,

  • Jeni

    We used this recipe as inspiration for our dinner night before last. YUM!! And it’s true– even better the next day!!

  • Margaret

    The only time I ever had borscht before was in Moscow, and it was so good I decided to try it again with this recipe. This was even better! One of my college age boys had a friend here – he said if I cook like this all the time he’s going to set up a tent in the backyard and live here.

  • Ruthi Jacobs

    In a magnificent resturant in Russia I had Borscht for the first time. Wow ! good. I have tired recipes but the one that tasted closest to the one I had in Russia had carraway seeds in it. Try that rather than dill, it really goes well with this.

  • Beth Potts

    I’ve tried a couple borscht recipes lately, and this one is hands down the best! My husband isn’t very keen on the idea of “soup for dinner” but this one keeps him coming back for seconds, with continuous compliments to the cook. :) Hearty and tasty! Thank you!

  • lizzy

    i made this for the first time and it came out fantastic even better than my mother-in-laws! I followed the recipe quite closely. However I used beef neck instead (and marinated it for 1 night), and chicken stock for the second 4 cups of broth. I can’t wait until it cools down so i can top it with cucumber, hard boiled egg, dill, and sour cream.

  • Mary

    What a great resource. My home grown beetroot is boiling as I type – I decided to look for a recipe AFTER I’d put them on the fire.
    As I suspected from my own experience of arguments among the Lithanians, Latvians, Russians and Ukranians in our Yorkshire street there is no one ‘authentic’ recipe so mine will be as good as anyone else’s :-)
    And what marvellous websites from other readers, although I’m passionate about food I haven’t a food-dedicated website but I’m going to come back to these time and time again. It seems to me that one doesn’t need any other reference for any recipe.
    Thank you.

  • Johanna

    Can you make this without adding the red wine vinegar or can u use a sub of some sort?

    Try using some other vinegar, such as cider vinegar. ~Elise

  • Dakota Cookery

    I love seeing so many different borscht recipes. I grew up in the upper Midwest in an area with a lot of Mennonite/Hutterite influence, and our “borscht” doesn’t include beets at all!

    Between the late 1700s and late 1800s, a group of Mennonites (actually of German descent) lived in what is now the modern-day Ukraine. While they largely maintained their German language and traditions, they picked up on various elements of Russian cuisine. In the late 19th century, they moved to the north-central US and central Canada, and they brought their love of hearty, delicious food with them.

    Our borscht is based on a rich, beefy broth from boiling beef bones. It includes cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, and lots and lots of tomatoes. I have actually never had borscht with beets! It can be served many different ways and with many different seasonings. I like serving it with lots of fresh dill and a splash of heavy cream. It’s tasty and nutritious no matter how you prepare it.

  • Pauline Morrison

    I first ate borsch when as a teenager, my family was invited to dinner by a Ukranian family. Back then, I wasn’t yet interested in recipes — but, I’ve never forgotten how wonderful the beet borsch was! However, I seem to remember that their borsch was creamed, but have seen no recipes for creamed. Are there any?

  • Randy

    I would reserve all of the dill until serving time. High heat destroys the flavor of dill, so it’s best added at the last moment. It’s even better if you add dill after you kill the heat, then let the soup sit in the fridge for a day and allow the dill to infuse the soup with its flavor. That extra day to allow the flavors to meld makes a huge difference with any soup.

  • Annabelle

    Made this yesterday. I was abit apprehensive at first because the process seemed so simple, it doesnt have spices or anything. But I made it and it turned out to be very nice.

    I followed the other reviewer’s tips on pre-frying the vegetables, and I added the ham like one person said (which was nice), and it definitely tastes better the next day!

  • Ottavia

    I made it tonight, my husband and I loved it! I made it sans meat, vegetarian style. I therefore started the process at step 3, and then cooked a little longer. Thank you!

  • Hellen

    It’s great that so many people love our national dish))) I’m from Ukraine and I love borscht as much as I hate green borscht.
    And it’s true that there a many variations of this dish. It’s depends on the region it comes from. But there always should be beans and beets. (we use some dry white beans or red and white also beans should be left in water overnight or at least an hour before you use them).
    You should try okroshky , solyanka, rasolnik or soup with klezkami too, we also have nettle soup, yep that strange but tasty))
    PS My apologies for possible grammar errors

  • Sidonie

    Borscht has definitely become one of my favourite soups, also great when you freeze some to eat later. I recently made a bet with a Russian friend (who happens to also be a chef) about who’s borscht would be better. So we had an impartial friend try both. In then end she amalgamated the two recipes, so I guess in a way we both won. My recipe is similar to this but without the beef and without all the skimming and whatnot, and the my friend’s version adds cream and a little grated parsnip.

  • Dumitru

    The truth is that the more you work on it the better the taste you will get. Finer you chop the ingredients makes a difference. Another thing – try and bake the beets. Wash in cold water and bake (like a backed potato) then peel and chop for the borsch and mix with the rest of veggies. If you got a cold try to eat baked beets with horseradish (mixed like a salad). All the best.

  • Ms. Glaze

    I clicked over to your site to find a pear recipe and I burst out laughing when I caught sight of this one. Last night my Mom and I got in a heated debate at the dinner table on how to properly make borscht to the extent that we started pulling out every single recipe book in the history of mankind to prove our individual arugments. My Lithuanian Stepfather also has his two cents to add – mainly that he hated eating it growing up. Being Russian jew and having now read over a dozen cookbooks, I can honestly say that there are as many borscht recipes as there are Russians! I can’t wait to print this one out and give it a shot. Looks fabulous. Maybe I’ll surprise my Mom with it tonight (hee, hee!).

  • Kat

    I never properly thanked you.
    I’ve been using this recipe for years. It’s simple, authentic, and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  • Patty

    Thank you for a gorgeous recipe. I enjoyed it very much and couldn’t get enough of the soup!

  • Fork Lift Operator

    A more correct transliteration would be borshch, not borscht. There’s no “t” in the Russian word. Same problem with cabbage soup or shchi.

    About the only Russian word Americans ever get right is “pizza”. ; )