Today’s soup is the one I have made more than any other. My ancestry is half Ukrainian, from my father’s side. Ukraine cuisine has so many memorable dishes: perogies, cabbage rolls and kielbasa are three of the most famous. Borscht is a soup that is commonly served in Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern and Central European countries. This Ukrainian borscht recipe came from my grandmother. She passed it down to my mom and she taught me.
There are as many variations of borscht as there are people who make it; no bowl is the same as another. I remember having borscht as a young child. Both my mom and grandmother would make it in the fall, when root vegetables were in harvest. There are so many memories I experience each time I have borscht now as an adult. Memories of family and comfort flood me with each spoonful.
I am so thrilled to share this family Ukrainian borscht recipe with you. Borscht is hearty and chunky with so many ingredients. I use a ham bone to make the stock, and the beets give the broth a deep burgundy colour. In some ways, because of the large chunky vegetables, the soup reminds me of a stew. It is perfect to have on a cool fall day.
This recipe was one of the more difficult ones to write down. Since it is a family recipe, and I have made it many many times, I cook this dish by feel and by taste. I know what needs to go in and how it is supposed to look and taste so I have never really known exact quantities.
Also, I make this in a BIG pot, so I needed to reduce the quantities of all the ingredients for a reasonable recipe size.
One thing to monitor, as you are making the stock, is that the water will reduce down. I start with my pot about 3/4 or more full with water and the ham bone. I like the stock to cook for a good 60-90 minutes which would reduce the stock by about 1/3. As you make the borscht, if you feel that more water is needed, feel free to add extra.
I cut the veggies on the larger size because I like borscht to be a chunky soup.
Here are some other Ukrainian family recipes!
- Traditional Pierogies – this is the recipes my grandmother used to make and my mom taught me.
- Cabbage Rolls – these are popular in many countries and this is my grandmothers recipe.
- 1 ham bone (1-2 pounds of beef ribs works well also)
- 15 cups water (more if needed)
- 2 cups diced ham (or beef if using beef ribs)
- 6 beets
- 3 potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 cabbage
- 1 onion , minced
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- Place ham bone in a soup pot with water. Bring the stock to a boil and let it cook for 1 hour.
- While the stock is boiling, prepare the vegetables. Peel the beets and cut in long sticks, similar to french fries. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Peel the carrots and cut in 1/4 inch slices. Cut the cabbage in 1/4 inch strips.
- After the stock has boiled for an hour, strain it to remove the bone and any other residue.
- Bring the stock back to a boil and add the veggies, diced ham and bay leaf. Lower the heat so the soup is at a low boil and cook it for another hour.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh parsley.
- Alternatively, you can stir all the sour cream in the soup pot prior to serving.