Barszcz Czerwony; Polish Beetroot Soup

Barszcz - Polish Beetroot Soup
Barszcz - Polish Beetroot Soup

This bright red beetroot soup is popular throughout the whole of Eastern Europe and it’s easy to see why – the colour is stunning and the taste is delicious!


I’ve opted to cook the Polish version, Barszcz (pronounced barshch – the final sound is like the “shch” in “freshcheese”), for obvious reasons; my wife is Polish and can cook with far more authenticity than I could ever lay claim to.  Many people will be familiar with the Russian version called “borscht“, of which this is a variant.  Each country and each family seem to have their own way of cooking it, and I present you with ours.

I am submitting this recipe to the fantastic seasonal food blogging event “In The Bag” being held over at A Slice of Cherry Pie.  This January is the Detox Special and I urge you to check it out.

Recipe: Barszcz Czerwony – Polish Beetroot Soup

This bright red beetroot soup is popular throughout the whole of Eastern Europe and it’s easy to see why – the colour is stunning and the taste is delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 Litres (3.5 pints) of Chicken stock (fresh or from cube)
  • 10 medium size Beetroots (cooked, peeled and diced; you can use pre-packed beetroot for ease)
  • 2 Carrots – diced
  • 2 Parsnips – diced
  • 1/2 Celery stick – diced
  • 1/4 Leek – cut in half lengthways
  • 1/4 Onion, diced
  • Marjoram, finely chopped (you can use dried)
  • Bay Leaf
  • 2 Allspice Berries
  • Spirit Vinegar, to taste
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Heat chicken stock in a large pot.
  2. Place all vegetables, bay leaf and allspice into the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until vegetables are soft (20 minutes approximately)
  3. Dice beetroots and place into the stock, making sure to add any leftover juice (don’t waste any – this really helps the colour)
  4. Add spirit vinegar – start with 1tbsp or so, this will prevent the colour from dulling, as well as giving a traditional sour flavour.
  5. Heat until beetroot is soft; add the marjoram about 5 minutes before finished. Add salt & pepper to taste, along with more vinegar if needed.
  6. Ladle in bowls while hot and enjoy. You could try this accompanied by mashed potato topped with lardons of fried bacon, as illustrated. Delicious!

Variations

If you prefer, a crystal clear version can be made by puréeing all the vegetables at the start before adding to the stock, and filtering through a muslin cloth at the end.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

45 Comments

  1. Another great soup.

    Hey I did make those “plum covered chocolates” & will post soon. Do you mind if I link back to you for the original recipe? It was awesome, my hubby loved it!

    1. Hi Soma, of course I would never complain at someone linking back to a recipe of mine. I’d find it a compliment! Can’t wait to see how it worked out for you.

  2. ah, lovely. 🙂 I must admit to being more familar with the Russian version (family line and all) but pretty much beetroot soup is a gorgeous, all season must have. Your recipe sounds lovely, and I may have to give it a try.

    Speaking of, have you ever had white borscht? I believe it is of Polish origin, but may be wrong. That also may not be it’s name either but it is what my Grandmother always translated it as and we always had big bowls of it along with bread to tide us over until mealtime on the Sundays we went to her house for dinner.

    1. Hi Shikishi, I haven’t tried white borscht (barszcz), but my wife has had it many times, and confirms that, as far as she knows, it is Polish in origin. If you do try this recipe, make sure to let me know about it – I’d love to know how you get on!

      1. I am Polish and Barszcz Czerwony is my favorite soup of them all. Also White Barszcz is not of Polish origin it’s more of a Ukrainian origin and I do not like the soups smell nor taste or the idea of eggs in the soup. It smells very sour and tastes very sour at the same time. I have never liked Barszcz Bialy and will never get used to it.

        – Smacznego

    2. The white barszcz you speak of is also called either “bialy barszcz” or, more commonly around here, Zure (should be a dot over the z, so it’s pronounced “zhurek”. I just bought some in a Polish market in Detroit. Zurek is based on a kvas made from soured rye flour. Here’s a recipe:
      Recipe for Zurek “Zhurek”

      The base for zurek (“zakwas”):

      3 cups of rye flour,

      small piece of crust from rye bread,

      2 minced cloves of garlic,

      2 cups of warm water.

      Place ingredients in a jar, mix them well, cover the jar with a piece of clean cloth, let the jar stay in a warm place for 4-5 days. If mold forms on top, remove it before using the zakwas. Discard the bread crust and garlic before using.

      Zurek

      2 cups of zakwas

      3/4 lb of white sausage – chopped (or just use polska kielbasa)

      1/2 lb of bacon,

      1 onion – minced

      2 cloves of garlic – minced

      1/2 cup of sour cream

      1Tbsp of flour

      1 bay leaf, 2 corns of allspice, 5 black peppercorns,

      1 Tbsp of marjoram

      Fry bacon (chopped), add onion, add garlic and sausage. Fry a little more. Add 3 cups of boiling water, add bay leaf, black pepper, allspiece. Cook for 20 minutes. Add zakwas. Mix sour cream with flour, add to soup, add marjoram, mix the soup well. Bring to a boil. You can also add chopped, cooked potatoes and chopped hard boiled egg.

  3. I wish I’d read this post earlier this afternoon 🙂 I know what to make next time I have beetroot in my veg box!

  4. I have loved beetroot from the very beginning of my life. Of course we call them beets here in Canada but my parents are from Lincolnshire.

    1. Gosh – I’m from Lincolnshire (and sitting there right now) – what a small world!

  5. I must say, I have never been a fan of beetroot, but the one time I tried borscht I really did like it. So maybe it’s time to give the Polish version a whirl!

    1. How can anyone not like beetroot? Perhaps you’re scarred by memories of the awful pickled stuff we seem to serve with salads to all children in the UK?

  6. You got it – scarred for life (and probably stained for life too!!) by the pickled crap… I have grown to like roasted beetroot though…

  7. Look at a Lithuanian BeetRoot Soup Recipe. Served cold it is very refreshing in the hottest of months. With my Lithuanian heritage my mother raised goats and used goats milk for this dish. The midwest state of Missouri was known at the time as a cows milk area. Enjoyed your recipe.

    1. I think I had something like this last year; a very pink coloured cold soup with a sour (but delicious) taste. I ate in in Poland actually – called Chlodnik – does this sound similar?

    1. Oh, come on…I’m sure it’ll convince you that beetroot is delicious really! 🙂

  8. Barszcz is my comfort food (I’m Polish) so I’m glad to see other people find it interesting 🙂 By the way, one of the ways of “keeping” the colour of this soup – don’t let it boil after adding beetroot, just simmer gently. Give my best to your wife 🙂

    1. That’s a great tip about not boiling the soup, Olasz – it makes perfect sense! I’ll give it a go next time and see what happens. Thanks for that!

  9. In some circles, I’m known as the ‘beet queen’ — perhaps because A Veggie Venture (my food blog) has something like 30 beet recipes — so I’ll join you in encouraging people to try them! For borscht, I’ve always followed the ‘rustic’ method. But your soup looks sooo clear, yet you say you didn’t strain the vegetables? The vinegar is critical – don’t skip it!

    1. I’ll trust your expertise – I’m a beetroot beginner, re-introduced to it by my Polish wife, who seems to have it with every meal. I now happily join her!

  10. The Borscht looks divine – I think I might try making it with a vegetable stock and lots of ginger.

    I also really like grated raw beets, carrots, and ginger with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

    1. Beets with ginger sounds like an interesting combination of flavours and one I’m definitely going to have to try. It’s always worth trying new things to see what happens.

  11. This looks delicious, the color in insane! I think I’ll love your version of this soup. Can’t wait to give it a try. I’m sorry that I just missed the “in The Bag” event!

    1. You haven’t quite missed it; you’ve got until this Sunday. Regardless, I can recommend this soup as it tastes delicious IMO!

  12. This soup is new to me but it sounds and looks marvellous! Luv it! Excellent shot too! Tks for dropping by at my blog. 😉

    1. Thanks…the soup is delicious. I’m sure I’ll be visiting your blog again soon!

  13. A dollop of sour cream when serving barszcz is an excellent addition.

  14. Yes, great minds do think alike! It seems there’s a few of us in the bag this month who are on the same wave length. It’s interesting to see how many different ways you can make the same sort of soup! Yours sounds great!

    1. Let’s see if we all come up with the same thing for the next one! I’ll be posting about it within the next day or so, if you feel like joining in (I’d love you to!).

  15. What a beautiful soup! I love seeing how differently we all make the exact same soup. Your family’s method looks delicious!

    1. I love’d seeing so many versions of the same soup, too. I’d also love it if you could join in this month’s edition of “In The Bag” – I’ll be posting the bag contents before the weekend so please check back to join in.

  16. The colour looks fantastic! Have just started getting interested in beetroot again recently, as we have a beetroot and chocolate dessert on the menu at work at the moment. Can you believe I’ve never had borchst?

    1. Never had borscht? There’s so many versions there has to be one out there you could try; I’ve even seen a Ukrainian version before which was more like a casserole or stew. Still delicious though.

  17. Instead of spirit vinegar you may use lemon juice to taste. I do it, as I don’t like vinegar and that’s the way to do it in my family. Also, if you have dried mushrooms, throw one in, together with the veggies – it adds to the taste.

    A vegetarian version is also possible, in fact red barszcz is part of the traditional Christmas Eve dinner in Poland with all the dishes meat-free. But then you need more beets for it not to have watery taste, and more spices too.

    1. For veg – take about 70g of dried mushrooms, soak in water over night in frig (as if you were going to make the mushroom soup). When you are ready, bring to a boil, strain. Use the stock in replace of the meat/chicken stock. I sometimes add a package of the Knorr mix to keep color if for some odd reason it goes orange.

      You can save the mushrooms for another dish or dice them and use in your ear-dumpling recipe….which is a good addition to the soup. I personally just make plain dumplings and give the mushrooms to the neighbor.

      BTW Piast puts out a nice calendar with recipes in both English and Polish – I use it to experiment with and bring different recipes together. The mushroom idea was from them.

  18. Thank you for this recipe!
    Being of Polish origin, myself, my mother and I wanted to make the most perfect & traditional Barszcz Czerwony. She already makes hers taste amazing, but the addition of fresh veg. and allspice made it even more delicious!

    Yumm 🙂 & hopefully spot on the Tradional Polish way

  19. Great recipe! I used a combination of beef and veggie stock instead of chicken, and I used some frozen beets and some canned. My husband and I really enjoyed this! He is Polish, and I have been attempting to make a good barszcz here in the US without much success. This is by far the most authentic (according to my husband) and best tasting (according to both of us) recipe we’ve tried. I will definitely be making this again — thanks so much!

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