Vegan Borscht - everything you wanted to know about making this traditional Ukrainian Soup. Picky kids approved, this healthy recipe won't skimp on flavor. I make this easy vegetable Borscht with beans and cabbage every week and I'm confident you'll love it too.
I know a thing or two about making Vegan Borscht.
I'm Ukrainian and this red beet soup with beans and cabbage is literally a symbol of Ukrainian cuisine.
When I lived in Ukraine, a hearty homemade Borscht was constantly on our weekly rotation. Probably, even more often than that.
After I switched to a plant-based diet, Ukrainian Borscht was the easiest thing to "veganize".
This simple vegan Borscht soup features so many good-for-you vegetables like cabbage and beans and it doesn't need meat.
Vegan Borscht is a hearty soup that you can serve as a standalone meal and I'll teach you how to make this classic Ukrainian recipe.
But before we go into all the details on how to make Ukrainian Borscht, let me get this straight.
If you hear someone saying they make an authentic vegan Borscht recipe, don't ever believe that person and walk away.
Well, I'm kidding of course, but do you know that every respectable Ukrainian homemaker will claim her Borscht is authentic?
It is always funny to read Ukrainian cooking forums where all ladies fight till they prove their Borscht is the most authentic one.
Here, I'm not going to claim my vegan Borscht is authentic. Because the truth is - no one knows a truly authentic recipe.
There are certain ingredients that you can use in order to call it Borscht, but other than that every homemaker has her own spin on this hearty and delicious soup.
Is this Borsch delicious?
You betcha. In fact, my vegan Borscht with beans and cabbage is the only recipe you need.
Believe me, if I say I tried countless Borsch recipes and I made many of these recipes at home.
But the version that I'm giving you today is my favorite.
What are the most important ingredients for Borscht?
Despite the popular belief that Borscht has to have meat in it, this statement couldn't be further from the truth. It's also misleading to say that Borscht absolutely needs cabbage, beans, or beets to call it Borscht.
Nowadays, the above-mentioned vegetables indeed act as the basis for Borscht, but historically not all of them were used.
For example, in the Ukrainian region of Polesia - beets were scarce in spring. That's why the acidity of Borscht was achieved with the addition of berries.
At the beginning of the 19th century, tomatoes and potatoes weren't used either.
What we're aiming for in vegan Borscht is not the mandatory ingredients but rather the final flavor of Borscht.
It needs to be properly salted with the right amount of acidity. Yes, an acidic component is very important. That's why in Ukraine many people use beet kvass (fermented beet juice similar to kombucha) to make Borscht instead of a broth.
💭 Here's Why This Recipe Works
- healthy. This vegetarian Borscht is packed with good-for-you ingredients, like onion, carrot, garlic cabbage, and beans. This all makes for a very nutritious and hearty soup;
- easy. Yes, it is indeed. Despite that there are a few steps involved in making vegan Borscht, all those steps are simple and straightforward. You can do some of the steps ahead of time;
- great for a standalone meal. Unlike many soup recipes that are consumed before the main meal, this Ukrainian vegan Borscht is more than an appetizer. It's uniquely satisfying, has a good amount of protein and carbs and you can enjoy it as a meal on its own.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Flour is used to thicken the mixture of sautéed vegetables. It's what my mom taught me to do a long time ago and I've been adding flour ever since. The quantity of flour is very small but in the end, it will make your Borscht just slightly thicker and will almost bind the ingredients together. I use regular all-purpose flour, but you can replace it with gluten-free flour;
- Sugar is used to cut through the acidity in my vegan Borscht with cabbage and beans and intensify the taste of it; Again, this is what my mom taught me. You'll need just a teaspoon of sugar. I used coconut sugar, but you can use brown sugar, organic cane sugar, Maple syrup, or skip this ingredient if you want;
- Vinegar and lemon juice. The first ingredient is used to add some acidity to vegan Borscht. The second ingredient which is lemon juice (not pictured in the photo) is used at the very end to make Borscht "just right". It's the final step in the whole process where you adjust the seasoning and also make sure it has a good level of acidity. You can actually skip the vinegar and use lemon juice in both instances;
- Beans. You can use any beans that you have in your pantry, however, most often Borscht is made with red Kidney beans.
- Broth. So, my vegan Borscht is loaded with vegetables. Because of that, the broth is not mandatory. You can absolutely make it with water. If I have time, I make vegetable broth, if not, I use water and my Ukrainian Borscht with cabbage and beans is still delicious.
Now it's time for me to show you how to make Ukrainian Borscht at home. It's easy and so delicious.
- Start off with cooking the beets for vegan Borscht. Wash and cut beets in half. Place a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and steam beets on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove beets with the tongs and cool down. Using a paper towel peel the skin and shred the beets on a large hole grater.
- While you cook the beets, heat olive oil in a large soup pot, and over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the cabbage. Using a long knife or a mandoline slicer, thinly slice the cabbage.
- Sprinkle flour over the sautéed vegetables and stir for one minute. Add cabbage, sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover with a lid, and sauté for 20 minutes until the cabbage softens.
- Increase the heat to medium, and add cubed potatoes and the remaining 5 cups of vegetable broth. Stir, bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add shredded beets, and kidney beans with all their liquid, salt, and pepper. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 5-10 more minutes.
- Turn off the heat, adjust the seasoning, and add lemon juice, garlic pushed through a garlic press, and fresh dill. Enjoy vegan Borscht with vegan sour cream and a slice of rye bread!
Expert tips to make vegan Borscht perfect
Now, here are a few things worth mentioning about making vegan Borscht with cabbage and beans perfectly every single time.
- In the final step when you adjust the seasoning, it's important to "make it right" as my mom says. It means, you try your vegan Borscht several times and check if the taste is balanced. What you're looking for is first of all - properly salted and peppered Borscht so that you won't feel the need to add more salt. Second of all - you're aiming for a broth that has a slight acidity to it. How do you make sure you got it right? You'll feel it because this subtle acidity will make you want to sip the broth again and again. It'll be perfectly savory. That's why I often end up adding more lemon juice and salt than the recipe requires. Don't overdo it though. Add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice at a time, taste the vegan Borscht and if it's not enough - add more.
- I strongly recommend you make a big pot of vegan Borscht. It is so good, you want to eat today, tomorrow, and perhaps even the day after tomorrow. A good, heavy-duty Dutch oven is your friend. In Ukraine, homemakers usually make huge pots of vegetarian Borscht and eat it the whole week and I'm not kidding.
- Vegan Borscht with cabbage and beans always - always tastes even better the next day. Since it has many ingredients, overnight they meld and merry together to create an ultimate Ukrainian comfort dish, full of aroma and taste. This is the truth my friend, which brings us to the first point - make a big pot of vegan Borscht so that you can enjoy this yummy Ukrainian Red Beet Soup or Cabbage Borscht with vegan "Smetana" (sour cream in Ukrainian) for several days in a row.
- You can also make vegan Borscht in your crockpot. Here's my Slow-Cooker Vegan Borscht recipe that I make very often. It's a tad different from this recipe but still very delicious.
As I said earlier, every homemaker has her own spin on vegan Borscht. Here's a list of possible ingredients that you can also add to this Ukrainian Red Beet Borscht with cabbage and beans:
- celery. Thinly slice it and add at the same time as the onion;
- parsley. You can use parsley instead or together with the dill as the end;
- bay leaves. Throw one or two bay leaves toward the end of the cooking process;
- lentils. You can use red lentils instead of beans. I recommend rinsing a cup of dry lentils and adding them to a vegan Borscht together with the cubed potatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
We can say so. Over the years, the major ingredients of Borscht have always been beets and cabbage. All other ingredients depended on the wealth of the household.
So if the family was poor, Borscht consisted of vegetables only. To add some richness, a homemaker would make "zazharka" (onion and carrot sautéed in oil) or "salo" (cured pork fat) and add it to Borscht.
When Borscht was served for special occasions or holidays, women would make it with meat, mostly beef.
Despite many debates over the origin of Borscht, it is nevertheless considered an authentic Ukrainian dish. Unesco declared it an intangible cultural heritage.
Russian most popular soup is Shchi whose main ingredient is cabbage.
Borscht is believed to be an adaptation of Shchi but with the addition of beets.
It tastes like a very hearty and rich savory soup with a lot of texture. Beets and tomatoes contribute to the slight sweetness of vegan Borscht. Lemon juice adds acidity which balances out the sweetness.
Some Borscht recipes call for sautéing the cabbage in sour cream. In that case, the Borscht will have a noticeably creamy aftertaste.
Absolutely. The number of vegetables that go into vegan Borscht, makes this soup healthy, wholesome, and suitable for anyone who tries to eat clean.
Usually, vegan Borscht is served with rye bread, garlic cloves, and/or green onions. If you want to make it even richer, serve it with a dollop of vegan sour cream.
Some vegan recipes call for making your own cashew sour cream. Unless you already have it in your refrigerator, I wouldn't bother with making it. Vegan Borscht tastes absolutely delicious on its own.
Vegan Borscht should be stored in an airtight container or the same pot where it was cooked in the refrigerator. Properly stored it will keep fresh for 4-5 days.
Reheat in a microwave or simmer in a sauce pot until it's heated through.
If you make this recipe, please leave me a comment below and rate it. I always appreciate the feedback. Also, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Vegan Borscht Recipe With Cabbage And Beans
Click on the highlighted links to purchase the ingredients.
- 2 medium beets
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely minced
- 1 large carrot peeled shredded
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour replace with GF flour if you want
- 1 ½ c cabbage
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar replace with Maple syrup, brown sugar or omit
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar
- 6 cups vegetable broth or water
- 3 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 can kidney beans undrained
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 5 cloves garlic
- ¼ c dill chopped
- 6 tablespoon vegan sour cream for serving, optional
Start off with cooking the beets for vegan Borscht.
- Wash and cut beets in half. Place a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and steam beets on a medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove beets with the tongs and cool down.* (See the notes about the alternative method)Using a paper towel peel the skin and shred the beets on a large hole grater.
Sauté the veggies.
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch Oven and over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Slice the cabbage.
- Using a long knife or a mandoline slicer, thinly slice the cabbage.
Sauté the cabbage.
- Sprinkle flour over the sauteed vegetables and stir for one minute. Add cabbage, sugar, vinegar, tomato paste and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
Cook the potatoes.
- Increase heat to medium, add cubed potatoes and the remaining 5 cups of vegetable broth. Stir, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add beets and beans.
- Add shredded beets, kidney beans with all their liquid, salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 5-10 more minutes.
Adjust the seasoning.
- Turn off the heat, adjust the seasoning (add more salt or pepper if you need to). Add lemon juice, garlic pushed through a garlic press and dill.
- Serve vegan Borscht with a dollop of vegan sour cream.