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Polish Red Borscht Recipe (Barszcz Czerwony)

A rich earthy beetroot soup, the Barszcz Czerwony is a popular dish for Christmas and Easter. The colorful tasty Polish soup dish is gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan.

What is Barszcz Czerwony?

Traditionally made with zakwas or beet kvass, the Polish red borscht soup or Barszcz Czerwony has been made since the 13th century and considered a medicine.

This traditional Polish soup was adopted from the Slavs who used to make it from the flower stalks, leaves and stems of the common hogweed.

Over time the soup evolved into different varieties. The Polish version is made with a beef broth during the year and a veggie broth at Christmas. Sweet and sour at the same time, it’s a truly warming dish.

You’ll often find the borscht served with a topping or sour cream, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, or sometimes the uszka. Because of the clarity of the soup, it’s sometimes also called Barszcz czysty czerwony – clean red borscht.

Although the traditional barszcz is made with a zakwas buraczany (beetroot starter), you can easily make it without. And here’s showing you how!

What to serve with Barszcz Czerwony?

Barszcz Czerwony can be served with any of the following:

  • Uszka dumplings shaped like little ears and filled with mushrooms
  • Croquettes known as Krokiety
  • Paszteciki pastries made from yeast
  • Toasted sour dough or rye bread
  • Mashed potatoes

Recipe Pointers For Barszcz Czerwony – Polish Red Borscht Soup

  • Use gloves if you don’t want to end up with pink hands after making this soup.
  • Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or toasted bread.
  • Serve with uszka dumplings for Christmas Eve, often as the first course.
  • Do not let the soup boil or it will lose color and turn brown.
  • If you skip the vinegar, add sour lime juice. Else your soup won’t be clear!
  • You can also strain the soup to make it clearer.
  • Serve the barszcz czernow in bowls or large soup mugs!
  • Top with sour cream and parsley before serving!

FAQs about Making Polish Red Borscht

What is the difference between the traditional Polish Borscht and Borscht Ukrainski?

The traditional Polish red borscht or Barszcz Czerwony is a clear beetroot soup, while the Barszcz Ukrainski has more texture because of the added sour cream and other ingredients.

What is the difference between the traditional Polish Borscht and the Christmas Borscht?

The traditional Polish red borscht or barszcz czerwony is a clear soup made from beetroot that can be made with a vegetable broth or a meat broth. When the same soup is made for Christmas Eve dinner, it’s referred to as Wigilijny barszcz czerwony and made with a (meat-free) vegetable broth.

The Christmas red borscht is often served little ear-shaped dumplings called uszka.

What is the difference between Polish red borscht and zurek?

Borscht is made with beetroot and gets its tartness from vinegar, lemons or fermented beetroot called zakwas buraczany. However, zurek its sourness from zakwas, a fermented rye flour starter.

How do I get the bright pink color in the red borscht?

Cooking borscht for long can make it turn brown. But the trademark of a good borscht soup is the red color. To make the borscht appear a lovely red in color, add vinegar or sour lime juice to it just when you’re done cooking.

Do I throw out the leftover beetroot after straining the soup?

No, don’t throw the leftover beetroot out. It’s perfect for grating and mixing with horseradish for the buraczki salad. You can also fry it s a topping for pasta, noodles, or toasted bread.

Which beets should I use for making borscht?

For the best red borscht soup use Boltardy beets. If you don’t find these, use Kestrel or Pablo beets.

How do I make the red borscht vegetarian?

This recipe for the barszcz is already vegetarian since we’re using a vegetable broth instead of the traditional meat broth.

Either cook some vegetables to make it yourself (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, cilantro). Or you can also use a cubed vegetable broth or a vegan broth base to make the broth.

How Long Can I Store Polish Red Borscht Soup?

This Polish red borscht soup can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Reheat before serving, but don’t boil as the soup will lose color, and the good bacteria will die.

Yield: 10

Polish Red Borscht Recipe

Polish Red Borscht Recipe

A rich earthy beetroot soup, the Barszcz Czerwony is a popular dish for Christmas and Easter. The colorful tasty Polish soup dish is glutenfree, vegetarian, and vegan.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 lbs of red beet
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon of marjoram and sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Peel and slice beetroots in half, then put them in the broth. Add peeled cloves of garlic and dried mushrooms.
  2. Bring to boil. Then cover the pot and reduce the power of the burner to such that the borscht only blinks slightly and cook it for an hour. 10 minutes before the ending of cooking add marjoram.
  3. Take off the gas and remove all ingredients, leaving just broth. Add a teaspoon of sugar to the boiled borscht and a tablespoon of spirit vinegar along with salt and pepper.
  4. The borscht is ready. You can drink it as it is, reheat it, or serve with uszka.
  5. The beetroots taken out of the borscht can still be grated and fried - they make for a very traditional Polish side dish, especially with some horseradish.


  • Serve with mashed potatoes on the side plate, or with uszka if for Christmas Eve.
  • You can use a cubed broth, or cook some vegetables to make it yourself (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, cilantro).

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