Luba’s Borshch


First of all, do not be intimidated by the length of this recipe.  It is very easy to make, and moves along pretty quickly.  I have decided to give the amounts of some of the ingredients by weight rather than number, as potatoes and carrots can vary a lot in size.  The amounts given below are for about one gallon of borshch; increase or decrease amounts of ingredients depending on the capacity of your soup pot and amount of soup you wish to produce.

To make my prize-winning Ukrainian borshch, you will need the following items:

Soup stuff:             

  1. a large soup pot

  2. water

  3. 1 pound whole chicken breasts, boned and cubed

  4. chicken bouillon cubes or chicken base


  1. dried mushrooms, a handful (optional)

  2. 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed

  3. 1/3 to 1/2 pound carrots, scrubbed/peeled and sliced

  4. 1 very small green cabbage, finely sliced, or half of a regular sized cabbage (or 1 bag coleslaw mix)

  5. 1-2 sweet peppers (capsicums), cleaned, cored, and sliced into bite-sized pieces (all green is fine, but I sometimes like a mix of red, green and yellow for the aesthetic appeal)

  6. 1-2 yellow onions, diced and sautéed to a translucent to light brown stage

  7. *2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped (or 1-2 t chopped bottled garlic))

  8. 1 can of diced tomatoes or tomato puree

  9. *2-4 medium beets, pickled or cooked, shredded or finely sliced/chopped

  10. 1 large can/bottle of tomato juice


  1. 4  bay leaves

  2. red pepper “hot seeds”

  3. dill weed, fresh or dried

  4. parsley, fresh or dried

  5. various other spices and condiments to taste:

  6. salt

  7. fresh ground pepper

  8. paprika, hot or sweet

  9. Vegeta

  10. vinegar (if borscht is too sweet)

  11. honey or sugar (if borscht is too sour)

  12. garlic powder

  13. tomato paste (if not enough tomato flavor)

Remember, borshch is easiest to make if you consider it a process.  Have all your raw materials ready (peeled, cleaned, etc), but save the chopping or the vegetables until actually needed.  Here it goes:

Fill your soup pot with approximately 1/3 gallon of water, and bring the water to a boil.  Chop up the chicken, and throw it in once the water begins to boil.  Dice the onions and, in a frying pan off to the side, begin sautéing the them on a gentle, low flame, stirring occasionally.  I fry in olive oil, but any good vegetable oil is OK.

Skim off that foamy stuff that boiling the chicken always produces.  Once the chicken is done foaming, add your chicken bouillon or base.  Add to taste–you should have a very strong but not overpowering chicken taste.  Remember, your final product will be diluted to three times the original volume, so don’t skimp.

Turn the heat down to medium. Peel, cut up and add first the potatoes, and then the carrots.  Chop the cabbage; once the potatoes are cooked, throw it in.  Add also the chopped tomatoes (with their juice) and tomato juice.  Continue cooking, now on a low flame. Core and cut up the fresh sweet peppers, and add them in.  If you are adding beets, put them in now.

Once the cabbage is fully cooked, add in the bay leaves, hot seeds, freshly chopped garlic and sautéed onions, oil and all (drain excess oil off before adding).  Let this cook a bit more.

Add the dried mushrooms.

Once the peppers are cooked, the borscht is done. Sample a bit, and then add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.  If needed, add garlic powder.

Since tomato juices vary so much in flavor and acidity, you may wish to sweeten or acidify the soup a bit, by adding a bit of sugar (or honey) or vinegar (or lemon juice).  Also, if the borscht is

  1. not “chicken-y” enough (or tastes “weak”)––add a bit more bouillon

  2. not tomato-y enough––add some tomato paste, or my mom’s secret ingredient......ketchup!

  3. not spicy enough––add more hot seeds

  4. (Keep in mind that the hot seeds can take several hours to manifest their true “hotness’” so go easy on them; you can always add more later!)

Just before you’re done cooking, add the dill weed and parsley.  If you’re using fresh herbs in either case, add them just prior to serving––they don’t stand up to prolonged heating well.

Serving suggestions:

Borshch is traditionally served piping hot, with a dollop of sour cream on top.  The sour cream is mixed in prior to consumption–it cools the borscht and makes it creamier.  Many people prefer it without the sour cream.  It’s also nice served with some fresh chopped green garlic and/or dill weed. Many Ukrainians like to add some crisply fried onions, or chopped garlic cloves. Some like even more hot pepper seed!

A great accompaniment is nice fresh rye bread, but any full-bodied bread (e.g. Sourdough)will do. 

Enjoy, and remember that borshch is always better the second day, so save a bit for tomorrow!


“Borshch” is a Ukrainian word that refers to a vegetable soup with a meat base, and red borshch (like this one) usually incorporates beets and cabbage.  I sometimes make mine without beets.  There is huge regional variation in borshch, are at least as many recipes for borshch as there are Ukrainian cooks, as each one I know has several different borshch recipes (summer, winter, Lenten, etc.).

If you wish to add beets, they should be added near the end of cooking, as noted in the recipe, to preserve their red color. They should be cooked or canned; if using raw beets, they should be braised/fried first, to seal in the color and flavor.

My traditional borshch is based on a recipe I got from my mother, but have tweaked quite a bit.  I like my borshch thick and hearty, and she likes it more watery.  My borshch won the Best Borshch award at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 1997 (and I have the beribboned wooden spoon to prove it) and again in 2019 (tiara this time).

Remember that you don’t need any fancy equipment or the even the exact ingredients––I have cooked my borshch all over the world, making do with local items and whatever cookware was available. And you can add more or less of any particular vegetables, according to your preference.

Updated 1-7-2022

Search my site with Google


Luba’s Quick and Easy Genuine Ukrainian Borshch