BORSCHT (Beet Soup) – AUTHENTIC POLISH RECIPE
Borscht – is one of my favorite and most popular Polish soups, known as Barszcz Wigilijny. It’s a traditional dish that is served on Christmas Eve. It’s made from beets, and it has a clean, almost see-through consistency. It is served in small bowls or mugs with small mushroom dumplings called uszka.
My family always had Borscht on Christmas Eve, but other families might have a different tradition of serving beet soup. I brought this tradition with me to America, and my friends and family love it when I make it for Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Borscht Soup, known as “barszcz wigilijny” in Polish, is a must dish on the festive Christmas Eve Supper table, also known as “Wigilia.” Traditionally composed of 12 dishes, this feast begins with the exquisite introduction of clear red Borscht. Served alongside delicate mushroom-filled pierogi, or “uszka,” this soup is a true embodiment of the holiday spirit.
Crafted using beet kvass, a liquid derived from fermented beets, Christmas Eve Borscht is simple, has a clear consistency, and is vegetarian (traditionally, the Wiglia is Pestcarioan). Contrary to the everyday borscht, which incorporates chopped beetroot pieces, root vegetables, and potatoes ( called Ukrainian borscht)this festive rendition is a delicate and light soup of a broth consistency. Its delightful sweet and sour notes create a flavorful experience that is both unique and satisfying.
Borscht, also known as Barszcz in Polish, has a history deeply rooted in Eastern European culinary traditions. Its origins can be traced back to the 9th century, making it one of the oldest soups in the region. Initially, Borscht was a simple broth made from fermented beet juice, but over time, it evolved into the hearty, flavorful soup we know today.
The cultural significance of Borscht in Poland extends beyond its delicious taste. It has become a symbol of hospitality and celebration, often served during special occasions such as weddings, Christmas, and Easter. The vibrant red color of the soup is said to represent good fortune and joy, making it a staple at festive gatherings.
INGREDIENTS IN POLISH RED BORSCHT
The ingredients needed for the borscht are straightforward and can be found in any grocery store. Here’s your shopping list:
- Celery Root
WHAT SPICES TO USE IN POLISH BORSCHT
I use a few critical spices to make the borscht (although different cooks might use other spices). I also use some pantry staple condiments to make it very flavorful and gratifying. Here’s your list:
- Dry marjoram
- Bay leaves
- Apple cider vinegar
HOW DO YOU MAKE AUTHENTIC BEETROOT BORSCHT
Make a broth:
1: Peel, wash and chop your vegetables (beets, celery, carrots, parsnip, celery root, and parsley)
2: Put your vegetables in a large pot, cover with water, and add the spices. Bring it to the boil, reduce the heat, and cook it on medium until the vegetables are soft.
3: When the soup is ready, add apple cider vinegar or beet kavas to preserve the beautiful color of the beets. Adjust the seasoning and strain the vegetables into another large pot. Serve with mushroom pierogi.
OTHER METHODS TO MAKE POLISH RED BORSCHT
This recipe uses ingredients that can you can easily find in any grocery store. However, if you live close to any Polish grocery store, you can get something called Beet Concentrate.
BORSCHT WITH BEET CONCENTRATE
Basically, the beet concentrate is concentrated borscht. It adds a lot of flavor to the soup, and when I have it on hand, I do add it to my recipe.
When you use the concentrate, remember that it is already salted, so you won’t need to add that much salt. Also, hold off the vinegar.
Experiment and see how much concentrate do you want to use. Start small and increase the amount to your liking and until the right amount of acidity and sweetness suits you. If needed, add vinegar, salt & pepper.
USING BEET KVASS
Using beet kavas is one of my favorite way of making borscht. I make beat kavass myself and buy it at the Polish store. Use the kavas instead of vinegar. Basically, beet kavas is a fermented beet juice, which is exceptionally yummy and a great probiotic.
If you want to use this method:
Make beet kvass from my recipe (that can be found here) 4 days prior to making your borscht.
Use the beet kavas instead of vinegar after the soup is all cooked (you dont want to cook the soup with the kavass because you are killing the probiotics; hence you add it at the end)
Remember that beet kvass can be salty, so be careful with your salt until the end of the process.
You can also buy pickled beets at the grocery store and add the juice from it to the soup in the end, which works just fine for many.
How to serve beet soup
Serving Borscht is an art in itself. Traditionally, it is presented in deep bowls, often accompanied by a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of fresh dill. Many Poles enjoy pairing Borscht with a side of hearty rye bread or uszka, small dumplings filled with mushrooms or meat.
Additionally, Borscht is a versatile dish that can be served hot or cold, making it suitable for various seasons and preferences. Cold Borscht, often called Chłodnik, is a refreshing summer variant incorporating yogurt for a lighter, cooler experience.
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining your borscht’s freshness, flavor, and safety. Whether you’ve prepared a classic red borscht or a contemporary variation, here are some guidelines for storing this delightful soup:
- Cool to Room Temperature: Allow the borscht to cool to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and the development of bacteria in the refrigerator.
- Airtight Container: Transfer the borscht to an airtight container. Glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work well.
2. Refrigerator Storage:
- Short-Term: If you plan to consume the borscht within a few days, store it in the refrigerator.
- Long-Term: For longer storage, consider freezing portions of the borscht.
- Freezer Containers: Use freezer-safe containers, leaving some space for expansion.
- Remove Air: If using bags, try to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
- Gradual Thawing: When ready to use frozen borscht, thaw it gradually in the refrigerator. This helps maintain the soup’s texture.
- Reheating: Heat the thawed borscht on the stovetop over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.
5. Storage Duration:
- Refrigerator: Consume refrigerated borscht within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
- Freezer: Frozen borscht can be stored for several months, but for the best quality, try to consume it within 2-3 months.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thetastesoflifeholisticblog
Polish Beet Soup
- 6 medium beets
- 1 1/2 onion
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 Pacific Veggie Broth
- 4 carrots
- 3 parsnips
- 1 celery root
- 3 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp marjoram dry
- 3 tbsp basil dried
- 3 tbsp dill dried
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- water if needed
- Wash all vegetables.
- Cut all vegetables into small pieces
- Brown onion with 2 T olive oil
- Add other vegetables and spices
- Add water and bullion
- Bring it to a boil. Low the tempurature to medium heat and cook for 1 and 30 minutes.
- 10 min before the soup is done, add and 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Take the pot of the heat. Cool it for 10 minutes and add beet kavas or beet concetrate.
- Strain all vegetables for a clear beet soup.
- Sereve in a bow with uszka, noodles and doolp of sour cream.