If you don’t know borscht, you should! It’s an easy vegetarian – vegan in this case – beetroot soup made with root vegetables, usually flavoured with dill, and topped with sour cream or yogurt. My mother made it all the time when I was small and it’s an eastern European staple.
We had it whenever there were red beets in the garden and I make it through the winter now. This version has lentils for a little heft and protein, and I’ve diced the veggies instead of grating them to make a heartier soup overall. If you prefer to have a finer texture I’ve included instructions for that at the end of the recipe.
For a more traditional recipe, this vegetarian borscht is quite typical for a classic beetroot soup, and uses several garden vegetables. If you want to have a really traditional meal, serve it with some dark rye bread and if you’re not sure you’re ready to go quite that far, any nice sourdough is good.
Ideally this should have been topped with fresh dill but it’s not available at this time of year. In addition to beets, there are a few other winter veggies packed in here, including some red cabbage.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Beetroot: any colour and shape can be used, but note that smaller roots tend to be a bit sweeter. Peel if necessary (if the skin is quite thick/knobbly).
- Vegetables: these can be changed based on your personal preference. Substitute parsnip for the carrots, for example, or use another root vegetable like turnip.
- Lentils: this can be brown, black, or green lentils, but I don’t recommend using red lentils for this recipe.
Like most soups, the flavour improves on the second day, and you need to have a pretty heavy hand with the salt. Use a nice tasting vegetable broth and add more salt if you need to at the end of the cooking time. I have a lot of readers who tell me they’re no good at soups but you just need balance of acid, sweetness, and salt. If it’s bland it almost definitely just needs a little salt!
If you prefer the texture of shredded vegetables, grate all of the veggies in your food processor using the grating attachment. Cook the vegetables down for about five minutes before adding the spices, broth, and lentils, and simmer for 20-25 minutes instead of 40.
How to Store
Storage: the soup can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Note that the colour will likely change to a more vivid pink as it is stored.
Freezing: transfer cooled soup to airtight containers and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating as usual.
- Don’t peel the vegetables: unless the skin is very thick and unpalatable, there’s no need to take the extra step of peeling the root vegetables. Give them a good scrub and that should be fine.
- Keep the mustard: it’s a major flavour point and a key element of borscht. Don’t use yellow hotdog mustard though.
More Beet Recipes
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- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 70 grams yellow onion 1/2 a medium yellow onion
- 400 grams beets 6 small beets
- 200 grams carrots 3 medium carrots
- 200 grams potatoes 2 medium potatoes
- 300 grams red cabbage 1/2 small cabbage
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 litre vegetable broth
- 180 grams brown lentils
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill plus extra for topping*
- Yogurt for topping
- Heat a large pot over medium heat with the oil. Dice the vegetables into 2 cm pieces and set aside.1 teaspoon olive oil
- Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, or until softened and fragrant.70 grams yellow onion
- Stir in the beets, carrots, and potatoes, and cook for five minutes more, stirring occasionally.400 grams beets, 200 grams carrots, 200 grams potatoes
- Add the cabbage and cook for an additional two minutes, followed by the garlic for another minute.300 grams red cabbage, 3 cloves garlic
- Stir in the salt, paprika, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the mustard and the balsamic vinegar, stir, and pour in the vegetable broth.1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 litre vegetable broth
- Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a rolling boil.
- Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium-low, then simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.180 grams brown lentils
- Stir in the dill, taste, and add seasoning as needed.2 tablespoons fresh dill, Yogurt
- Serve hot with a little yogurt and dill. The soup freezes well and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.