This Russian Borscht Recipe Makes the Hearty Home-Cooked Soup of my Childhood

This Russian borscht recipe makes the hearty home-cooked soup of my childhood that my baboushka used to make. The Russian-Ukrainian beetroot-driven vegetable soup is served with sour cream and dill and is a filling meal in itself. We’d eat it for lunch or dinner the first night then breakfast the next day.

My traditional Russian borscht recipe makes a comforting vegetable soup that I like to think of as Russia’s soup for the soul. Borscht has a special place in the hearts, minds and stomachs of anyone of Russian or Ukrainian heritage who grew up dunking weighty slices of black rye bread into their grandma’s nourishing broth.

This is the Russian borscht of my childhood growing, which is why it’s a deep amber-dark orange colour rather than the deep ruby or purple-tinted borscht you’re probably more familiar with seeing in cookbooks, magazines and food blogs. There’s a reason for that, which I’ll tell you about below.

But before I tell you about my recipe, can I ask you a favour? If you’ve cooked any of our recipes from Russia or beyond and you’ve enjoyed them, can you please consider supporting Grantourismo so we can continue developing recipes and food content. This post offers suggestions for ways to support Grantourismo but here are a few ideas…

You can browse our online store (we’ve got everything from reusable cloth face masks to gifts for street food fans designed from Terence’s photography); make a donation or become a supporter of our epic Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon; or purchase something on Amazon, such as one of these James Beard 2020 award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, cookbooks for foodie travellers, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. Now let me tell you about my Russian borscht recipe.

This Russian Borscht Recipe Makes the Hearty Home-Cooked Soup of my Childhood

This Russian borscht recipe is next in our series of traditional Russian recipes that we’ve been cooking since Russian Christmas and will continue to share until the Russian Orthodox New Year’s Eve.

So far we’ve published Russian family recipes for beet potato salad, Russian pelmeni, stuffed cabbage rolls, and a classic garden salad, and over coming days we’ll publish recipes for piroshki (hand pies), chicken kutleti (meat patties), varenyki (potato filled dumplings), an Olivier salad, and more.

This Russian borscht recipe makes the hearty vegetable soup my baboushka made. It’s not baba’s recipe, which is hand-written and back home in Australia. It’s the borscht recipe I have been trying to recreate for years from my memory and I’ve I finally nailed it.

If you’re of Russian heritage or from one of the countries that were part of the former Soviet Union it may not be the borscht of your memory, and here’s why…

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My grandparents were Russians who arrived in Australia as post-World War II refugees, who were called DPs or displaced persons in those days. They identified as Russian, and I was raised as an Australian of Russian cultural heritage, despite the fact that my grandparents were born in the land we now know as Ukraine.

Throughout my childhood, the word ‘Ukraine’ was never mentioned. We ate Russian food, followed Russian cultural traditions, listened to Russian music, and my grandfather in particular longed for his ‘Russian’ homeland until the day he died.

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Yet Papa was born in a village near the separatist area and called the Ukrainian capital Kiev his city, as it was there that he came of age. My baboushka was born in a village near Odessa, a city she adored. During the countless long lunches that turned into dinners she’d tell wonderful tales of summers spent in the Crimea on the Black Sea.

So how is this explained? Because my grandparents were born during the Russian Empire, before the country of Ukraine was formed. That’s why the Russian recipes of my childhood, including this Russian borscht recipe, may perhaps be a Russian-Ukrainian fusion of sorts.


Russian cuisine has a long rich history, and so does Ukrainian cuisine. Those cuisines are intertwined due to the histories and experiences of people like my grandparents. More on that in another post. For now, just a couple of tips to making my Russian borscht recipe.

Tips to Making This Russian Borscht Recipe

My baba made her borscht with big chunky bone-in pieces of beef and ox tail, but we can’t get quality beef or ox tail here, so we use pork ribs for this Russian borscht recipe, which are delicious and fall off the bone.

If you prefer a more beetroot-driven borscht then by all means adjust my Russian borscht recipe and shift the balance of vegetables and use more beetroot.

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Use less tomato and more beetroot and you’ll get that ruby-red or purple colour you’re after.

And, yes, while fresh beetroots are best, you can use canned beetroot in in this Russian borscht recipe, but it may not result in that vivid ruby or purple shade that you want.

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Lastly: while you can certainly cook this Russian borscht recipe in an hour and have a delicious borscht to slurp, leave it to simmer longer and it will taste even better.

Re-heated the next day it’s even more heavenly.

Russian Borscht Recipe

Do let us know if you make my Russian borscht recipe in the comments below, by email or on social media, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you and get your feedback and tips.


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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.