Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Borscht Recipe

A bowl of vegetarian borscht with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Serious Eats

Who's ready for another cheap soup recipe? This one is as economical and simple as they come, is ready in minutes, and is far richer and warming than it has any credit being. The recipe comes via the Estonian food blog Nami-Nami, where I was looking for ideas to put the epic amounts of cabbage and beets that are plentiful here in Estonia to good use. It is simply beets, onions, carrots, and cabbage, all cut into shreds and matchsticks, sauteed then simmered together until everything turns a strange and beautiful pink.

Borscht is a popular soup in this part of Europe, with numerous hearty variations that almost always feature the earthy beet. The majority of the time the soup has meat in it, but I didn't miss it one bit (nor did I notice that the soup has hardly any fat). I made a huge pot and the leftovers have only grown tastier. The flavor is light and hearty at the same time, made gently sour by the addition of lemon juice, and far greater than the sum of its parts.

Recipe Details

Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Borscht Recipe

Prep 30 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 65 mins
Serves 6 servings


  • 1 pound beets (beetroot), peeled and cut into matchsticks (reserve a small piece to grate into the soup at the end)

  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

  • 3/4 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 5 cups vegetable stock

  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

  • Salt to taste

  • Coarsely ground black pepper

  • Sour cream (optional, omit for vegan soup)

  • Finely chopped parsley or chives (optional, for garnish)


  1. Sauté onions, carrots, and beets over medium heat in the olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large soup pot, reserving a small amount of raw beet to grate and add near the end to enliven the color.

  2. In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. When the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes), add the shredded cabbage and the hot stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the reserved grated beet.

  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice, aiming for a pleasing but subtle sour taste. Serve with freshly grated black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped parsley, if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
121 Calories
5g Fat
18g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 121
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 838mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 34mg 169%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 489mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)