Vegan Borscht (Beetroot Soup)

I love making fresh soups, because other than eating veggies straight-up, I find that a homemade soup is the best way to bring-out the great flavor of fresh vegetables. Nothing is more comforting, and yet the effort to make homemade soup is pretty minimal. Plus, I’m always shocked to see what grocery stores and specialty shops charge for “homemade” soup. You can easily make 3-4 times the amount for the same price… and then freeze it away for a busy/rainy/lazy day.

This week, I had a lot of fresh beetroot on hand so I decided to make beetroot soup (Borscht) for the first time.

Vegan Borscht (Beetroot Soup) - Vegan and Gluten-Free

According to Wikipedia:

Borscht (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch, or barszcz, Russian and Ukrainian: борщ) is a soup of Ukrainian origin that is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. In most of these countries, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient, giving it a deep reddish-purple color. In some countries tomato may occur as the main ingredient, while beetroot acts as a secondary ingredient. Other, non-beet varieties also exist, such as the tomato paste-based orange borscht and the green borscht (sorrel soup).

Anyway, as I was washing and prepping the beets, they started reminding me of something…

The elusive beet-mouse

The elusive beet-mouse

Adorable, right? Anyway, here are a few notes about the soup…

Notes

  • I just used fresh diced beetroot instead of grating it and/or roasting it first.
  • Some recipes that I came across called for cabbage (about 1/2 a head), and/or tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, but I stuck with a beetroot base. At the very end I decided to add some cannellini beans and green peas. Determine your combination based on whether you plan on pureeing or serving it straight-up (I wouldn’t puree if you have a bunch of different veggies in there as it might turn into a brown gooey mess).
  • I ended-up blending half of the soup and leaving the other half chunky, but it could be left chunky too. If you grated the beetroots initially, I think it would have a really nice consistency straight-up.
  • I substituted vegetable broth for beef/chicken – hey, sometimes ethics trump tradition!
  • I used 3 cups of broth, which made a pretty thick soup/stew. You may want to double to 6 cups to make a lighter soup.
  • I didn’t have any caraway seeds on hand, so the taste was pretty mellow, but I would definitely add them if I had them.
  • Fresh dill is a must for this recipe (You can never go wrong with fresh herbs)!
  • You can serve this hot or cold – although I would probably puree it if you plan on serving it cold.
  • You may want to wear gloves when peeling/cutting the beets. Otherwise, you can rub your hands with a bit of lemon juice to remove any stains.
Beetroot Beetroot
Beet Hands
5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Borscht (Beetroot Soup)
 
Prep time
Cook time
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This bright soup will liven-up any cold fall or winter day - Vegan & Gluten-Free
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Eastern European
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 medium beets, skin peeled, and diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (this makes a thick stew - use 6 cups if you want it really soupy)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1 can cannellini beans (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (optional)
  • vegan sour cream, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beets and saute for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth, cover the pot and simmer until the beets are tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. If using, stir in the beans and peas and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Season with lemon juice, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and dill.
  5. If pureeing, let the soup cool a little bit before pureeing with regular or immersion blender.
  6. Serve soup garnished with sour cream and fresh dill. Can be served hot or cold.

Vegan Borscht (Beetroot Soup) - Vegan and Gluten-Free

Vegan Borscht (Beetroot Soup) - Vegan and Gluten-Free

28 Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    Oh, this looks so wonderfully thick! I adore soups that fill you up like a proper hearty meal. Love borscht!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Hannah – Thanks for your comment! Yes, this is very hearty indeed. I don’t think that many people like beets… but I love them and think they look so beautiful as a soup :)

      Reply
  2. This looks fantastic! I love thick, hearty soups. Great tip re: gloves to avoid red hands — beets sure are messy!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thanks JL :) I’m normally a big fan of puree soups but I really liked the heartiness of this one. I pretty much never wear gloves (dishes, gardening, etc). Guess I like to get my hands dirty? ;)

      Reply
  3. Angela says:

    This looks delicious! I just cooked with beets yesterday and my hands looked just like yours! I’ve started putting paper towels between the cutting board and beets just so it doesn’t get any more stained than it is. LOL.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thank you lady-with-a-great-name :) That’s a good tip for the beets. I’m almost thinking of getting a dedicated beet cutting board. Maybe a purple one? :)

      Reply
  4. Jodi says:

    I love the hue of this soup! Looks nice and hearty too. I bet it would make for an amazing meal on a warm summer night!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Jodi – Thanks so much and yes, it is super yummy cold and would be great on a warm summer night. The dill makes it especially fresh-tasting :)

      Reply
  5. Preeti says:

    Oooh, this looks good. I am currently looking for Beetroot recipes, I grew them in March and they may be ready to eat soon, i’ll keep this in mind! (Adorable mouse pic!)

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thanks Preeti :) Oh my goodness, fresh homegrown beets would be so yummy – lucky you!

      Reply
  6. Caitlin says:

    i love beetroot- i’ll have to give this a try- yumm!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thanks for your comment, Caitlin – let me know if you try it! :)

      Reply
  7. ani says:

    I wouldn’t substitute with beans and peas, borscht is beetroot, potatoes, carrot, fresh herby greens and a little little little bit of cabbage! Not too much!

    I tried to make it a couple of weeks ago from my grandma’s recipe, but I failed ..bad stock – not fresh :(

    well done on your attempt though :D

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Ani – I picked those veggies as I saw them mentioned in a few of the other recipes that I came across. However, in the end, they really got lost in the soup and you couldn’t really see them anyway. I’d probably go with 100% beetroot next time, or a bit of cabbage if I have it on hand…

      Reply
  8. ani says:

    Traditionally this soup can be made in 15 minutes once the broth has been set up. Lemon juice isn’t seasoning, it’s to keep the colour of the soup. :p

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Ani, Thanks for your comments. How would the beets cook in only 15 minutes? Is that if you roast them beforehand? Good info on the lemon juice. The color of this soup is one of the best things about it!

      Reply
  9. marta says:

    I’m sorry, but what a bullshit recepie! Borscht or Barszcz is never blended and its really rarely cooked with any meat. You have made a red beet paste not a soup, so please don’t call it borscht.
    thank you

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I came across blended Borscht recipes so that’s what I went with here. To each his/her own, I suppose!

      Reply
  10. Amanda says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I tried it tonight with a beet “windfall” from my farm share, and it did not disappoint!! I subbed out red wine vinegar for the lemon, and used soy yogurt (plain) instead of vegan sour cream. It was fantastic!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Yum, I bet it was so good with fresh beets from the farm. I like your substitutions too. Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

      Reply
  11. Nora says:

    A few notes from Eastern Europe: there is borscht and there is borscht :)

    The one with a lot of stuff in it like potatoes etc is called here ukrainian borscht, it’s made with stock etc.

    In Poland we have borscht for christmas and it’s on of the few polish soups that are 100% vegan as it was supposed to be suitable for the fasting time. My mum makes it this way, more or less, I can ask her for a precise recipe: you take a lot of beetroot (it doesn’t matter if you mince or grind it) and you cook them with a lot of water and then you wait one day and on the next day you cook the liquid again, this time with garlic and salt and on the third day you spice it with vinegar, salt, sugar and marjoram :) Some people also use lemon juice. You can save some beetroot after day 1 if you like them in your soup.

    The 3rd one is called “botwinka” (botvinka) and it’s made from young leaves and fruit of beetroot, based on broth, “whitened” with sweet cream and served with egg and dill but I recently made a vegan version with coconut milk and it was as good as I remember. The right proportions of lemon juice and coconut milk are crucial for this one and A LOT of dill :)

    As I know them ukrainian borscht is served sometimes with meat and it’s very “rich”; the polish one is in a way very spicy and botwinka is the most delicate one in taste.

    Reply
  12. Lola Luna says:

    I ♥ beets & soup, so putting them together is not only tasty but beautiful!
    Looks lovely!!!
    -LL

    Reply
  13. Luna says:

    I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and it was faaaaaaaaaaaantastic!!! I kept it thick and a little chunky, it was so rich and full of flavor!!
    Thank you so much for the great recipe, and I love your site!
    Cheers,
    Luna

    Reply
    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad you liked it. Thanks for the reminder too – I need to remake this myself ASAP :)

      Reply
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