Ukrainian Winter Borscht

I cooked this Ukrainian Winter Borscht because Ukrainian chef Olia Hercules and Russian chef Alissa Timoshkina ask to #cookforukraine Russian and Ukrainian dishes for freedom, peace and to support Ukraine (The Guardian). So does the Good Friends Good Food Group and chose Ukraine to explore this country’s cuisine

In the early 80’s of the last century I had my first purple red borscht in Leningrad, I thought it was a soviet thing. No I learned from Olia Hercules, that the soup ist eaten everywhere in Eastern Europe. There is no strict recipe, ingredients vary, but the soup always contains beet and cabbage. For Olia Hercules Babushka Lusia it is a must to choose the pale beets. The soup has to be thick, so the spoon stands up straight.

Ukrainian Winter Borscht

Ukrainian Winter Borscht

A hearty warming and delicous soup with „international“ ingredients: Most ingredients are from Schleswig-Holstein, but beans, pepper, allspice, tomato and -paste are not. Food connects cultures.

Ukrainian Winter Borscht

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ukrainian Winter Borscht

Ukrainian Winter Borscht is a thick, oxtail based soup with pale beets and cabbage. The spoon stands up straigth.



  • 1 kg oxtail
  • 1 onion, peeled and left whole
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 100 grams celeriac, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 allspice berries, roughly crushed
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 2 liter water


  • 2 tablesp. sundflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, fineley chopped
  • 100 grams carrot, peeled, chopped into match sticks
  • 1 tablesp. tomato paste
  • 200 grams beetroot, peeled and chopped into match sticks; Ulrike: Chioggia beets
  • 1 bell pepper, 350 grams, deseeded and diced
  • 1 beef tomato, 400 grams Coeur de Boeuf, roughly grated and skin discarded
  • 200 grams potatoes, peeled and diced
  • sea salt flakes
  • 400 grams white cabbage, shredded
  • 1 400-ml-tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, Ulrike: 250 grams black-eyed peas
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
  • 0,5 bunch dill, chopped, Ulrike: frozen
  • 100 ml sour cream, to serve, Ulrike: Crème fraîche


modified by from: Olivia Hercules


  1. Fill a large pot with cold water. Add the onion to the pot. Add carrots and the celeriac along with the allspice, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Add the oxtail and a good pinch of salt.
  2. Bring the water to the boil. Skim the froth and discard it. Turn the flame to low and simmer the stock for two to three hours, until the meat separates easily from the bone.
  3. Drain the beef stock into a large bowl. Reserve the oxtail, but discard the rest. Pour the stock back into the pot with the oxtail. This can made the day ahead.
  4. Skim some of the beef fat with a ladle off the top of the stock and pour it into a large frying pan. Turn the heat to medium and wait for the fat to start sizzling. Add your onion and sauté it gently, stirring from time to time, until it softens and starts to caramelize. Then add the carrot and cook for about five minutes. This ist distinctively Ukrainian ’sofrito‘ technique called smazhennia or zazharka. Season with salt and taste—it should be well-seasoned.
  5. Add the beetroot to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Finally, add the bell pepper and grated tomato, cook for a couple of minutes, and taste. If it tastes too sour, add a pinch of suga
  6. Add the contents of the frying pan to the stockpot with the potatoes and cook for seven minutes over medium-high heat. Then add the cabbage and beans and cook for another three minutes. The potatoes should be soft and the cabbage al dente. Finally, grate the garlic straight into the pot and give it a vigorous stir.
  7. Serve the borscht with plenty of chopped dill, some sour cream on the side, and some good-quality bread for dipping. The soup will taste even better the next day.

total time: 4 hours
preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking/baking time: 3 – 4 hours

* = Amazon Affiliate-Link

more recipes and entries in English
more recipes with beets

14 thoughts on “Ukrainian Winter Borscht

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  3. Kayte

    That looks delicious and beautiful! I love the photo of the spoon standing straight up. Such a nice way to keep the Ukrainian people in our thoughts and make others aware of their plight.

  4. Sigrid

    Wenn doch nur mehr als Essen unsere Kulturen miteinander verbinden würden, das wäre zu schön. Aber mit diesem winterlichen Eintopf ist auf jeden Fall ein leckerer Anfang gemacht. Ein gute Sache.

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  9. Margaret Ortigo

    This looks delicious, Ulrike. When I think of borscht I think of beets which are not in my fave list. This is definitely NOT beets!!

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