Ukrainian Meatless Borsch (Borscht)

"On Christmas Eve. meatless borsch is eaten."
photo by a user photo by a user
Ready In:
1hr 30mins
1 pot




  • Pour hot water over the mushrooms, drain, and wash.
  • Cover with lukewarm water and soak for 30 minutes or longer.
  • The period of soaking will depend on the variety of mushrooms used.
  • The boletus variety (white hryby) requires little or no soaking.
  • Cook the mushrooms in the same water in which they were soaked until they are tender.
  • Cook the onion in the oil until slightly wilted.
  • Add the beets, parsley, peppercorns, and water.
  • Cover and cook until the beets are barely done.
  • Add the carrot, potato, and celery, and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
  • At this stage put in the cabbage, and cook until it is tender but not overcooked.
  • The cabbage should retain some crispness.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Use the beet kvas or lemon juice with discretion.
  • The borsch should be mildly tart but not sour.
  • Season to taste.
  • Finally add the cooked, chopped, or whole mushrooms along with the mushroom stock.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Serve.
  • BEET KVAS Wash and pare 10 to 12 medium beets, then cut into eighths.
  • Put into a stone crock or any earthenware container and cover with boiled water, cooled to lukewarm.
  • To hasten fermentation, place a slice of sour rye bread among the beets.
  • Cover and keep at room temperature for a few days.
  • When the liquid is sour, pour it off the beets into the sealers; cover, and keep in the refrigerator.
  • The kvas is added to borsch in the final stage of cooking.
  • Pour a small quantity of kvas into the borsch and bring to a boil.
  • Overboiling fades the color of kvas.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Meatless borsch is call svekol'nik which in translation means beet soup. This is my version: I really do not know just how authentic you want it to be but I would not give my 2 year old something that would be bad for me(and he really loves borsch, but only when he eats it at home, in restaurants he doesn’t eat even one spoon of it, God knows we have tried)… Things have changed in Ukraine and people do not eat lard with garlic as much now, as they did before (yes it was really good, it had a very nice, unique slightly smoked-flavored taste and it was pink in color and was covered in salt , then you had to scrape the salt off with a knife, peel some garlic get some dark bread a tomato and eat it, in some Hungarian stores you can still buy some very delicious lard in Austria was even a better one, but in Ukraine it was unbelievable ) and now, that you know where I’m from, lets go back to the borsch , please listen to me…if you don’t want your veins or arteries to get clogged up, or have a shortness of breath eat garlic without lard but with borsch, when serving it, garnish with some fresh dill but don’t add garlic or dill to the borsch (I don’t know why, but don’t, I think the borsch gets spoiled too soon) Then let me add my 2 cents...first of all ,adding sugar (one cube to be exact) preserves the red color of borsch try to pick very small beets they are much tastier ( in Ukraine only the pigs would eat large sugar beets-saharnaya svekla) instead of too much salt add some ketchup and tomato paste, instead of bacon just try ox tails or veal tails (my #1choice)-yes you have to cook the meat first and remove the fat that floats on the top you will find it much tastier and the borsch should be clear not muddy,( for very same reason I don’t like to add potatoes or beans, too much starch and the beans change the color from red borsch to average looking soup and the taste is way off) so don’t add any vegetables until you remove all that mud I don’t know how you call that in English , anyway you don’t want to eat that, so just remove it with the spoon rinse and keep removing and rinsing the spoon until the top of the pot and the broth is nice and clean ...if the color of borsch is dirty no real Russian or Ukrainian will eat me…I've recently had purchased a ZEPTER cookware from Switzerland , so I just do all my preparations before… I would start simmering meat and all for like 30 +min and then turn the gas completely off and cover it, the cookware has a 10 mm surgical still bottom ,so it retains the same heat for hours, without the gas being on, so you can just go and play with the kids in the park get really hungry and come back take a shower serve the plates and after 2+ hours (Regular cookware add another hour and simmer on low heat, do not leave it unattended) the borsch is ready to be eaten, and it’s so good trust me you can actually taste every ingredient that goes into the borsch it is like an accord on a very expensive $10,000 guitar you can actually hear the sound of every string and not just one accord…the vegetables don’t change their color and don’t get overcooked but are very soft and slightly crunchy even after 2 hours of cooking your food is full of nutrients and it is delicious also I personally like fresh garlic(yes you can still kiss if you both have it), maybe because I don’t like too much of a cooked garlic, (I think it overpowers the taste, if it is cooked and sometimes it can cause heartburn, when you add too much of it) with dark bread from a Russian deli store, (I think Lithuanian made breads are best) and Canadian sour craft that is sold also in all Russian deli has a much better taste actually exactly the same taste just like the homemade sour craft that I had in Ukraine, probably the Ukrainians that live in Canada produce it… Enjoy your borsch…bon appetite to all. p.s. save most of the borsch for tomorrow it will taste even better, I don't know why, but it does taste better, there also was a joke: (With the Jewish accent) -Haim do you want yesterday's borsch? -Yes (Da)! -Then come tomorrow .
  2. We really enjoyed this served with dollops of sour cream and freshly chopped dill from the garden. I reduced the amount of water/stock to 6 cups and added another potato to make it a bit more hearty. I used tomato juice rather than the beet kvas or lemon juice. I felt something was slightly lacking when it came to the final seasoning, and followed a Moosewood cookbook suggestion of stirring in a squirt of honey, some sherry vinegar and a few caraway seeds. I'm not keen on dried mushroom and left it out. Thanks for posting, and I will cook this again.



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