Vegetarian borscht

A lighter version of a traditional European dish!

Popular in many Eastern and Central European cultures, Borscht seems to be one of those ‘love it or hate it’ things. People who do not enjoy beets are not likely to love this soup, but if you jazz up the flavour with lots of spices, as this recipe does, you may win over some of the fence-sitters. I love Borscht because of its hearty, earthy flavours and while I prefer to eat it piping hot with a generous dollop of sour cream, lots of people seem to enjoy it chilled as well. Many Borscht recipes call for the inclusion of beef as well as meat stock, but I like the bright, clean flavour of this vegetarian version. Serve with some dark rye bread and you’ve got a pleasing combo. If you aren’t sure whether your guests will enjoy this soup, I recommend using little bowls or even Asian teacups to dole out small portions. As my mother would say, “you can always come back for more!”

Borscht is hearty, flavourful and has a beautiful bright colour. Serve it with dark rye bread.

Borscht is hearty, flavourful and has a beautiful bright colour. Serve it with dark rye bread.


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized beet, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
  • 4 cups (1 L) of vegetable stock
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 small cabbage, shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh dill, chopped or 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • fresh dill or parsley, for garnish


  • In a large pot over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil and onions. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often, until onions are softened and beginning to turn golden.
  • Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring often.
  • Add grated beets and carrots and drizzle with additional 2 teaspoons olive oil and the salt.
  • Stir well to coat the vegetables with oil then cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine tomato paste and water; add to vegetable mixture and stir.
  • Add vegetable stock; cover pot and bring to a boil.
  • When stock is boiling, add potatoes and cabbage along with pepper, bay leaves, dill, coriander and cider vinegar.
  • Cover return to the boil, then reduce heat and cook 10 – 15 minutes longer, until potatoes are tender.
  • Add lemon juice to soup.
  • Remove bay leaves and puree soup using a stick blender, regular blender or food processor. You can make it as textured or as smooth as you like.
  • The soup may be served warm or cold. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream and herbs.

Serves 4 or more, depending upon the size of bowls you use.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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