Savory Slow cooker Stovetop

Borscht

This traditional Ukrainian dish is hearty, nourishing, and profoundly versatile. This gluten-free recipe includes both vegetarian and vegan options, and it can be made either on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.

I love a good, hearty bowl of borscht. This soup is the national dish of Ukraine, though if you visit any country in eastern Europe you’re likely to see it on a menu. In Poland it is barszcz, in Russia it is борщ (borsch), and in Ukraine it is borshch; as with the unique variations in spelling, each region also has their own slight variations on the recipe.

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As you’ll see, my recipe for borscht can be made with or without meat; the pictured soup is completely whole-food plant based. While historically, Ukrainian borscht was made from meat, fermented beet juice, vegetables, and beef stock, it was a dish of practicality. You used accessible foods – the carrots, onions, potatoes, and beets from your garden – to make a nourishing and affordable meal for your family. Sometimes you would include beef or salt pork, but often meat was an expensive luxury. So a vegetarian or vegan borscht is not a new fad or an American invention; it has a historical precedent.

A bowl of borscht, garnished with sauerkraut, dill, and sour cream, sitting in a white bowl on a red and white tablecloth.

My version of borscht is also garnished with sauer kraut – mainly because I wasn’t interested in trying to ferment my own beet juice to obtain the traditional sour flavor. My dear Russian friend, a former exchange student, also informed me that the dish can be garnished with smetana (eastern European sour cream/crème fraiche) or with mayonnaise. None of the ingredients in this borscht contain nuts or flour. Be sure to double check your garnishes (especially the canned foods, like sauerkraut), but it is no hassle to make this dish dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free.

Okay, okay. Enough historical context. Let’s get down to the recipe. Below, I detail the instructions for preparing this borscht in your slow-cooker; if you would prefer to make it on your stovetop, I’ve included instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

A bowl of borscht, garnished with sauerkraut, dill, and sour cream, sitting in a white bowl on a red and white tablecloth.

Start by peeling and chopping all of your vegetables. I honestly decided to make this recipe because we planted beets in our garden and I wasn’t sure how else to use them. (If you have any other favorite beet recipes, please drop some inspiration in the comments!) I also needed to thin some of the carrots from our garden, so this soup ended up tasting more fresh than any other soup I’ve ever made. Even if you need to use canned vegetables for this soup, it is still loaded with vitamins and nutrients; beets are an awesome source of iron, and carrots are full of beta-carotene (vitamin A) and potassium (vitamin K).

In a small pan, sauté your onions in avocado oil over medium heat. Once the onions are translucent, stir in garlic. Once the garlic is aromatic (after 1-2 minutes), add thawed stew beef (if using). Sauté briefly, just until the meat is slightly browned along its edges.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large stock pot, a Dutch oven, or your slow cooker. Add carrots, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, bay leaves, lemon juice, dill, and broth to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. 

While your soup is cooking, finely dice 1/4 head of read cabbage. 30 minutes prior to serving your soup, increase the heat to high and stir in the shredded cabbage. Once cabbage is tender, add salt and pepper to taste. 

Ladle into bowls and serve hot. Garnish with dill, sour cream (vegan or traditional) and sauerkraut as desired. This borscht will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.

A bowl of borscht, garnished with sauerkraut, dill, and sour cream, sitting in a white bowl on a red and white tablecloth.

I hope you found this soup to be satisfying! Did you include any variations when you made it at home? Did your ancestors make borscht differently? Tell me about it in the comments! If you made your own borscht at home, feel free to tag @WhiskAverseBaking in your posts on social media.

A bowl of borscht, garnished with sauerkraut, dill, and sour cream, sitting in a white bowl on a red and white tablecloth.

Borscht

This traditional Ukrainian dish is hearty, nourishing, and profoundly versatile. This gluten-free recipe includes both vegetarian and vegan options, and it can be made either on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Eastern european, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

  • Slow cooker (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 2 onions diced
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 pound chopped stew beef thawed (optional)
  • 2 medium carrots sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 large beets diced (or two 15-oz cans of beets)
  • 2 small potatoes cubed
  • 4 to matoes diced (or one 15-oz can of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 4 cups broth vegetable or beef
  • ¼ head red cabbage shredded
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

For garnish

  • Dill
  • Sour cream can substitute vegan sour cream
  • Sauer kraut

Instructions
 

  • In a small pan, sauté onions in avocado oil over medium heat. Once the onions are translucent, stir in garlic.
  • Once the garlic is aromatic (after 1-2 minutes), add thawed stew beef (if using). Saute briefly, just until the meat is slightly browned along its edges.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a large stock pot, a Dutch oven, or your slow cooker.
  • Add carrots, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, bay leaves, lemon juice, dill, and broth to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • 30 minutes prior to serving, turn heat to high and stir in shredded cabbage.
  • Once cabbage is tender, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve hot. Garnish with dill, sour cream (vegan or traditional) and sauerkraut as desired.
  • Borscht will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.

Notes

If preparing on the stovetop, feel free to saute your onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven to make this a one-pot meal. Add the carrots, beets, and broth to your pot; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaves, lemon juice, and dill. Bring to a simmer and cook for at least 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Next, mix in the tomatoes and shredded cabbage. Cook until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, at least 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste; ladle into bowls and serve hot. Garnish with dill, sour cream (vegan or traditional) and sauerkraut as desired.
Keyword crock pot, gluten free, slow cooker, soup, vegan, vegetarian

3 comments on “Borscht

  1. I bet this is really delicious being served fresh.
    I’ve had it while overseas in Germany.
    Here in the states I’ve only seen it in the grocery store canned. I also understand that this is a seasonal item if you do it fresh.
    My question is if you know how to can vegetables; can you can this particular recipe? ( of course with a pressure canner)

    • That’s a great question! I’ve never personally used a pressure canner, but I do like to freeze this recipe using plastic zip-top bags. In the freezer, it does keep quite well. I’ve made it when beets are out of season, using canned beets – that worked pretty well, too.

  2. Pingback: Plokkfiskur (Icelandic Fish Stew) - Whisk Averse Baking

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