RECIPE: Mama’s Authentic Russian Borscht

Borscht made with love, just like mama makes.

Image by _Artemis_ from Pixabay 

Borscht, otherwise known as Russian Beet Soup, is a staple among all Russian households. The ingredients are simple, virtually everything can be grown from your own backyard! Growing up, borscht was a classic comfort/after school meal for me. This recipe has been passed down (and often changed) from grandmother to mother to me and now to you!

You can eat the soup hot or cold; however, I’ve always preferred it hot. Prep and cooking time usually takes around 2-3 hours, but it is well worth the wait. This recipe usually makes about 6 bowls of soup, leaving plenty for the next day!

Mama’s classic red borscht is easy to make for anyone trying to experience authentic Russian cuisine.


  • 3 medium Red Beets
  • 2 stalks of Celery
  • 2 whole Carrots
  • 1 whole head of Green Cabbage
  • 1 medium White Onion
  • 1 medium Potato
  • 1 can of Tomato Paste
  • Dill
  • Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Brown Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Grapeseed, Olive, or Avocado Oil
  • Beef Chuck (optional)
  • Beef Neck (for broth)
    • Can be substituted for vegetarian/vegan broth of your choice
  • Sour Cream (opt.)
  • Garlic (opt.)
Image by Alina Braha from Pixabay 


1. Put the beef chuck and beef neck into a soup pot, fill it halfway/ quarter of the way with cold water. Put the pot on medium heat and cover it. Wait for the water to boil.

  • If you choose to not use meat, put your choice of veggie-based broth into the pot and wait for it to boil.

2. While you wait, chop the cabbage in half, and cut the halves into small slices.

  • Be sure to take out the core of the cabbage.

3. Coat a pan in the oil of your choice, saute the sliced cabbage.

  • Be sure to lightly salt the cabbage, rotate occasionally.
  • If your pan isn’t big enough, you can saute the cabbage in sections.

4. When the broth comes to a boil, remove whatever, if anything, rises to the top with a spoon.

5, Once the cabbage has wilted in the pan, move the cabbage into the pot.

6. Take the can of tomato paste and put it all into the pot. Stir.

7. Peel and grate the beets.

  • Tip: Cut off the top of the beet, but use the bottom stump for leverage when grating as the beet becomes slippery after peeled. DO NOT grate the end stump.

8. Once grated, place the beets into the same pan the cabbage was sauteed in. Be sure to add more oil. Lightly salt and occasionally rotate.

  • Like the cabbage, if you pan cannot fit all the beats, do it in sections.

9. After about 10 mins, add the beets into the pot.

10. Peel and grate the carrots, also lightly saute in the pan. After 10 mins, add to the pot.

11. Cut the top and bottom of the onion then add it whole to the soup pot.

12. Cut off the ends of the celery,  then cut the stalk into ¼  and add directly into the soup pot.

13. Peel and grate one potato and add directly into the pot.

14. Then, add about 2 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of pepper, 4 generous squirts of lemon juice, and 1 spoonful of brown sugar

15. Once everything is in the soup pot, put on low heat and let the soup simmer for at least an hour. Keep uncovered.

16. Check back in 30 mins and taste the soup to see if it needs any additional salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or sugar.

17. Add ½  cup of dill.

18. Let sit for another 30 minutes, then ENJOY!

For the true Russian experience, add one clove of garlic and a spoonbowl of sour cream into your bowl, serve with black/multigrain bread with butter!

Pro Tip: Borscht is ALWAYS better the second day, let the onion, celery (and meat, if added) marinate in the fridge overnight and taste the hearty difference!

Daniella Fishman


Daniella is an NYC born adventurer with a love of traveling, writing, eating, and rollerskating. Dani is passionate about supporting local communities and exploring everything from bustling city life to quiet woodland retreats. There is an adventure around every corner if you open your eyes and mind to it.

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