Vegetarian Ukrainian/Russian Borscht Soup (Красный Борщ)

Up close bowl of Borscht with sourcream and dill, carrots and dutch oven
Posted On: January 19, 2017
Last updated: February 4th, 2024

I grew up on this traditional beet soup.  This is Vegetarian red Borscht (pronounced “borsh-ch”, no “t” sound even though many say it that way) and I love it!  It’s a warm and delicious soup that also has green cabbage and potatoes; perfect for a cold hard day.  Vegetarian Borscht is also a great dish to feed your family if you’re trying to get healthier in the New Year.  The only indulgence with this soup is the sour cream or bread you would enjoy with it.  I would assume that Borscht is one of the first foods that would come to most people’s minds thinking of Russian food.  Although it is definitely a well loved dish in Russian cuisine, it’s the national dish of Ukraine.  In my case, my mother and grandmother were born in Ukraine, so that is how it became a family recipe for my family.  I hope you enjoy this vegetarian Borscht recipe as much as I do.

Russian Ukrainian Bowl of Borscht with sour cream, beets in a bowl

Ukrainian/Russian Influence

As with most Eastern European dishes I have on my website a lot of my inspiration has come from both Russian and Ukrainian cuisine, just like this dish.  Even though I grew up speaking Russian my mother was born in the Ukraine in the primarily Russian speaking city of Odessa, so a lot of her recipes along with my maternal Grandmother’s were heavily influenced by both cultures.  As you’ll see elsewhere, not to get political, the two cultures have more similarities than not.  Borscht is a popular soup for both nationalities with minor differences.  It has definitely gained popularity over recent years in other Eastern European countries and now in the United States. 

Steps & Ingredients for making Russian Ukrainian Borscht

Borscht Soup Prep

As with almost any Eastern European recipe, the prep work can be a bit lengthy.  There aren’t many recipes that don’t involve a lot of peeling and chopping of vegetables and other ingredients.  One thing I do find easy and actually kind of fun about making Russian borscht is cutting the beets into matchsticks.  It’s not a requirement for borscht, but it one of the most preferred ways to present borscht.  Once you know how to do it, it makes the borscht recipe process easier.  Here is a great little video showing the easiest way to cut beets into matchsticks.

Russian Ukrainian vegetarian Borscht with carrots, onion with a Slavic table runner

Vegetarian Borscht Soup

Many borscht soups I grew up with had meat in them, but as with any other cultures a vegetarian option is always desirable.  I like both versions, but I would say over the years, with my travels and borscht tastings from Russian homes to restaurants I’ve always enjoyed a good vegetarian/vegan version of this soup.  A meatless version of borscht just appeals to the masses and is less hassle to make as well.  My mom often times made such a vegan version for Orthodox Christmas eve as it was the last night of lent before the holiday.  This recipe is technically vegan, but because I highly recommend a dollop of sour cream added when serving, that breaks it from vegan status.  One of my boys likes it without sour cream I think he’s crazy.  It’s a matter of personal preference of course. 

Borscht with Dutch oven, onion, carrots

Variations of Borscht

Every household has their way of making borscht in these Slavic countries.  Some Ukrainians add white (cannellini) or red kidney beans and celery to the soup.  Also, many borscht soups have meat in them, so meaty beef bones can be added and beef broth instead of vegetable broth.   A distinct variation, and nothing like red borscht is green borscht which is sorrel soup, also a favorite of mine growing up.  

14 ingredients shown on wooden counter for red borscht with labels

Vegetarian Red Borscht Ingredients

  • Olive oil- Any cooking oil to cook the onion will do, I just prefer extra virgin olive oil
  • Beets- Red beets are standard since it’s a red beet soup, but if you only have another type of beet it should be fine.  The beets along with carrots gives this soup it’s natural sweetness. 
  • Garlic- I like fresh minced garlic, but if you’re out, you can add about 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic per garlic clove instead. 
  • Carrot- Carrots add a nice color to the soup as well as contribute to the sweetness as well. 
  • Onion- Just sweet or yellow onion. 
  • Water- Standard good old fashioned tap water is fine.  This is just so you don’t over-do it on sodium in the broth. 
  • Cabbage- Some might add red cabbage, which makes since being a red soup already, but we’ve almost always used green cabbage. 
  • Vegetable broth-  If you don’t need this to be a vegetarian or vegan soup, you can use beef broth instead. 
  • Tomato paste– I love the triple concentrated Italian tube kind.
  • Bay leaves
  • Salt- I like fine sea salt. 
  • Pepper– standard fine ground black pepper.
  • Sugar- standard white sugar.
  • Potatoes- Any yellow potatoes like Yukon gold are fine.  Russets are fine as well.  
  • Lemon juice- This is for acid which gives a nice balance to the sweet and sour-ish soup.  You could also use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar instead.  Some people also add a little dill pickle juice which is great as well. 
  • Dill- Fresh dill is preferred, but if you can not get it, dry is fine too. 
Red borscht in bowl with spoon, sour cream and dill. Glass bottle and candle in background with Ukrainian napkin

How to Serve Borscht

As I stated above, many Russians enjoy it with a big dollop of real sour cream.  Many Ukrainians also enjoy it with a big dollop of real mayonnaise instead.  Fresh dill is always a must in borscht; I think that’s standard in most households.  It’s a nice touch to add a sprinkle of some fresh just before serving right in the bowls of soup.  A good rye bread is oftentimes served with it as well. You can serve it with any really good, airy bread with a nice slather of butter. Then be sure to dip that bread in the soup for a delicious treat!

Summertime soup

Some Russians and Ukrainians enjoy cold borscht in hot months, so it can also be a perfect garden to table kind of summer soup.  

borscht coup with sour cream mixed in with silver spoon in white and white bowl

Give this vegetarian Borscht soup recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Related Recipes You May Like!

red vegetarian vegan borscht with spoon in blue white bowl on Slavic red white and black napkin

Vegetarian Ukrainian/Russian Borscht Soup

This recipe makes a nice big pot of vegan red borscht soup (About 14 cups). Borscht freezes well for future enjoyment and it is even better the next day! This recipe is vegan as written, unless you add sour cream.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 56 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 26 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Eastern European
Servings 14
Calories 97 kcal



  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb beets about 3 medium, peeled and cut into matchsticks (If you prefer the beet smaller you can shred them through a food processer)
  • 5 large garlic cloves minced
  • 8 oz. carrot 2-3 small, peeled and cut into about 1/8 ” half circles
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 1/4 cup water divided (using 1/4 cup 1st, then 4 cups)
  • 1 small green cabbage (About 2 lb.) shredded (If you don't like the soup too thick, just use half the head)
  • 4 cups low/no sodium vegetable stock/broth
  • 5 Tbsp concentrated tomato paste I love the Italian kind in a tube
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lb. white potatoes peeled & diced into 1/2 inch cubes (keep cubed potatoes in water till ready to use)
  • 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice start with 2 Tbsp and add another if you like
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill chopped (or 1/2 Tbsp dried dill)


  • Heat dutch oven or large pot on medium heat and add olive oil.
  • Once olive oil heated, add onion and cook about 5 minutes, until tender.
    Cooking diced onion in dutch oven with a wooden spoon
  • Add the garlic, stir and cook another minute. (Reduce heat to medium low if pot too hot)
    Adding minced garlic to tender onions
  • Then add beets, carrots with 1/4 cup water.
    Adding carrots and beets to dutch oven
  • Stir to combine, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Now add the the cabbage, broth, remaining water, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves, salt, pepper and return to a boil.
    Adding cabbage, tomato sauce, bay leaves to pot
  • Once it starts boiling, reduce heat and simmer covered this time for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Now, add the potatoes, return to a boil, cover and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally. (If the soup is too thick for your liking you can add more liquid, but I think it's great thick and chunky)
  • Once the potatoes are knife tender and cabbage fully cooked and tender, turn off the burner.
  • Lastly, add the dill along with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Adjust salt and pepper at this point as well. If you like the soup a little tangier add another Tbsp of lemon juice or add a squeeze to each bowl you serve. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
    Adding fresh chopped dill and lemon juice as last step in borscht cook
  • Enjoy!! Priyatnovo Appettita!
    Big full ladle of borscht over big pot of borscht


Ideally served with a dollop of real sour cream (Optional for those not eating dairy), maybe a little fresh dill or even a squeeze of lemon juice.

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 3gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 349mgPotassium: 482mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 2876IUVitamin C: 36mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Borscht, Borscht Recipe, Russian Borscht, Ukrainian Borscht, vegetarian
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5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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