Easy Homemade Borscht Recipe
Borscht is a beet-based soup that I grew up eating throughout the year, but especially on Ukrainian Christmas Eve. This Homemade Borscht Recipe is the easiest and quickest ever – ready in under 15 minutes!
If you know anything about beets you must be wondering how I can possibly make a beet-based soup in under 15 minutes. Beets take a long time to cook. Longer than 15 minutes for sure. And they’re a pain to peel. No way could it be done.
But you see, I’m doing this SOUPin15 series and I’m sharing a homemade soup that’s ready in under 15 minutes every single week for a year.
And right now we’re in the holiday season which always makes me think of Borscht since it is a staple at Ukrainian Christmas feasts.
I had to find a way!
I was thinking about it when I remembered my mom telling me, years ago, that she tried making borscht using canned beets. I couldn’t remember if she’d said that it had worked or not. I called her and asked. She said, “Yes!” My BORSCHTin15 problem was solved!
Using canned beets for this soup is amazing. Not only are they already tender, they’re also already peeled. Peeling beets is a time-consuming and messy business. It’s so great to not have to do it.
RECIPE UPDATE: Since posting this recipe, I have discovered a way to prepare fresh beets that is simple and not at all messy. You roast the beets in their skins. If you want to make borscht using fresh beets instead of canned, this is the way to go. Follow the instructions for roasting beets here. You’ll need 5-6 medium beets for the borscht recipe before.
A note about this borscht and borscht generally. There are different kinds of borscht. In my family alone we eat three different varieties. There’s a special summer version with fresh garden vegetables, a wintery meaty version that can be a whole meal, and a more delicate vegetarian version that is always part of our meatless Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner. If you grew up eating borscht it might have been like one of these three. Or it might have been completely different.
I think you’ll like this one no matter what you’re used to though.
The key is those sweet beets, of course, but also the dill and a good bit of cream (sour cream or heavy cream). Also, you need to have a bit of acid, usually in the form of vinegar.
My mom says that the acid is needed to keep the beets brightly colored. I don’t actually know if this is true since I’ve never omitted the vinegar to find out. Whatever the reason for adding it, I’ve noted nice acidity in every borscht I’ve ever had and I don’t think it could really be borscht without it.
Acidity is important in more than just borscht, which is why it’s my SouperTip today. Every week when I share a new SOUPin15 recipe I also share a tip for what makes it delicious so quickly. Today’s SouperTip is acidity in the form of vinegar or citrus juice. Adding a small amount can really make a difference to a soup (or a stew or sauce or just about anything, for that matter). Next time you’re tasting a soup and think it needs more seasoning or more salt, try adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar instead. It will give it a flavor boost and some complexity in the background that makes you go, “Mmmm…what’s that? So good.” Vinegars are best added in the middle of cooking so that the harshness can blend in a bit. Citrus is best added at the very end of cooking to retain the fresh flavor.
I’m heading to Canada for Christmas with my family in a few days. I’m pretty sure there will be borscht there at least once (Mom? Will there be? Please?). I hope you get to have some at your own holiday feast too!
And now, here’s my quick and Easy Borscht Recipe. See you in 15!
- 4 cups low or no-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil (like vegetable or grape seed)
- 1 medium potato
- 1 cup carrot matchsticks
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen cut green beans
- 2 big handfuls of fresh dill
- 2 (15oz.) cans "original cut" beets
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 6 Tbsp. whipping cream or sour cream to serve
- Measure the broth into a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Chop the potato into a small (1/4 inch) dice. Add it to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir and then cover the pot.
- Roughly chop the carrot matchsticks. Add them to the pot. Stir and cover.
- Chop the onion. Add it to the pot. Stir and cover.
- When the broth is done heating, add it to the pot along with the salt and pepper.
- Increase heat to high, cover and let it come to a simmer. Reduce heat to a moderate simmer.
- While the broth is simmering in the pot, put the frozen peas and beans in the microwave-safe bowl and heat until defrosted and warm, about 2 minutes.
- While the peas and beans heat, chop the dill. Add half of it to the pot of soup. Put the rest aside for now. Put a colander over a bowl and pour in the cans of beets. You need the liquid so do not discard it. Put the drained beets into a food processor and process until they're in small pieces.
- When the potatoes in the pot are tender add the vinegar, the beets and the beet liquid and the heated peas and beans. Heat on high until simmering.
Stir in the remaining dill. Taste and add more vinegar and black pepper as needed. Serve with either whipping cream or sour cream on the side for people to add to their bowls of soup.
Video by Leigh Olson. Article, photos and recipe by Christine Pittman.
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