Polish Recipes/ Soup Recipes

Barszcz – Polish Beet Soup

5 November 2021 By Aleksandra

Barszcz (Borscht) is a Polish beet soup. It’s delicious, slightly sweet, and sour. It’s often served with mashed potatoes and sauteed onions with bacon topping. It tastes amazing and it’s really easy to make.

The full name of this soup is barszcz czerwony (red borscht) because we also have barszcz biały (white borscht). It’s also called barszcz zabielany, which means that the cream has been added to it.

Don’t confuse this recipe with Ukrainian-style borscht – this type of borscht is filled with vegetable chunks, beans, and beef and served with a dollop of sour cream on top. This type of borscht is also very popular in Poland but it’s simply a different recipe.

Other types of Polish beet soup include this Christmas Eve Borscht (clear and meatless) and spring beet soup (beet greens soup) – botwinka.

This is an everyday borscht recipe. A version of this Polish soup without the cream and potatoes is also popular – here’s the recipe for it: beet soup.

Barszcz soup in a white plate with mashed potatoed and onion bacon topping.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Polish borscht soup.

Here’s what you need to make the base of this soup:

  • Beets – purchase raw beets and roast them for the best flavor but you could also use pre-cooked beets if you’re in a pinch.
  • Broth – use good-quality broth for the best-tasting soup, lots of people make this soup based on a vegetarian broth or rosół soup (Polish chicken soup) which often serves as a base for Polish soups. Rosol soup can be made with chicken or chicken and beef meat. If you have a good quality beef soup, you can add half chicken broth and half beef broth (I like to make rosół with chicken and beef meat (50:50) and use it to make this soup). If you don’t have a good quality beef broth, use just store-bought chicken broth, which usually tastes much better than beef broth.
  • Acidic ingredients – I’m using a combo of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Sweet ingredients – I’m adding a small amount of sugar to balance the acidity. This soup should be sweet and sour. Some of the sweetness also comes from the beets so you may want to add more or less sugar depending on how sweet your beets are.
  • Cream – in Poland, a special type of cream for soups is most often used here (it’s a sour cream with 18% fat content). I’m using a combo of sour cream (12%) and heavy whipping cream (30%) since I can’t get this type of cream where I live.
  • To finish – lots of dill is a must for this soup. You can use fresh or frozen but don’t use dried. Marjoram is also often added to this soup.

For the topping you will need:

  • potatoes – to make mashed potatoes, add some butter and milk to the potatoes to make them more creamy (they are not pictured)
  • bacon and onions plus butter and oil to cook them

Some people serve this directly in the soup bowl and call it a “potato island” or serve it on a separate plate.

Labeled ingredients for soup topping.

Step by step instructions

Beets wrapped in aluminum foil. Mashed potatoes in a pot.

STEP 1: Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake for about an hour at 400°F (200°C) or until they can be easily pierced with a fork (small beets can be done after 45 minutes, medium after about an hour, large need about an hour and a half).

Is it necessary to bake beets?

No, actually most Polish recipes call for cooking beets in chicken or beef broth, but I have made two batches of this soup – one with roasted beets and one with boiled beets and the one with roasted beets was so much better. Roasted beets are sweeter and have more concentrated flavor.

STEP 2: While the beets are baking prepare the sides: cook potatoes until soft, mash them with 3 Tbsp butter and 1/4 cup milk while still hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Raw onions and bacon in a pan. Cooked onions and bacon in a pan.

STEP 3+4: Dice the onion, cut the bacon into cubes. Heat the oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions and bacon, cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, lightly caramelized, and the bacon is browned. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.

If you want the bacon super crispy cook it separately from the onions.

Grated beets and a box grated on a white plate. Broth is being added to beets in a pot.

STEP 5: When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and grate on the large holes of a box grater (use gloves!).

STEP 6: Add the beets to a large pot, add the broth. Bring to a boil, add the vinegar, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cream is being added to beet soup in a pot. Lemon juice is being squeezed into a pot with beet soup.

STEP 7: Temper the cream: add both types of cream to a cup, gradually add a couple of tablespoons of hot soup, stirring after each addition. Add the tempered cream to the pot. You can also mix this in a food processor (it’s easier to perfectly combine the sour cream with the soup). Add the tempered cream to the soup.

STEP 8: Add marjoram, lemon juice, chopped dill, and sugar. Season the soup with salt and pepper then adjust the seasonings to your taste – add more vinegar or lemon juice if it’s too sweet or add more sugar if it’s too sour. The soup should have a distinct flavor and taste sweet and sour.

Put some mashed potatoes into a soup plate, pour in some soup, top the potatoes with bacon and onions (you can also serve mashed potatoes, onions, and bacon on a separate plate).

Enjoy!

Storage

You can keep this soup for up to 3 days in the fridge, reheat it until hot but don’t boil it rapidly. This soup can be frozen only without the cream in it.

You can reheat mashed potatoes in the oven: set it to 350°F (180°C), place the potatoes in a baking dish, top with butter slices then bake until warm. You can warm up bacon and onion topping in a pan.

Barszcz soup in a white plate with mashed potatoed and onion bacon topping.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Barszcz – Polish Beet Soup

Barszcz (Borscht) is a Polish beet soup. It’s delicious, slightly sweet and sour. It’s often served with mashed potatoes and sauteed onions with bacon topping. It tastes amazing and it’s really easy to make.
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Polish borscht soup served with mashed potatoes, onions, and bacon.
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4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
baking the beets 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 392kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the soup:

  • 1 lb beets (450g) 2 medium/large beets
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

additionally:

  • 2 lbs (1 kg) starchy potatoes, like russets
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon frying oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium/large onions
  • 8 slices bacon

Instructions

  • Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake for about an hour at 400°F (200°C) or until they can be easily pierced with a fork (small beets can be done after 45 minutes, medium after about an hour, large need about an hour and a half).
  • While the beets are baking prepare the sides: cook potatoes until soft, mash them with 3 Tbsp butter and 1/4 cup milk while still hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Dice the onion, cut the bacon into cubes. Heat the oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions and bacon, cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, lightly caramelized, and the bacon is browned. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. (If you want the bacon super crispy cook it separately from the onions.)
  • When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and grate on the large holes of a box grater (use gloves!).
  • Add the beets to a large pot, add the broth. Bring to a boil, add the vinegar, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Temper the cream: add both types of cream to a cup, gradually add a couple of tablespoons of hot soup, stirring after each addition. Add the tempered cream to the pot. You can also mix this in a food processor (it’s easier to perfectly combine the sour cream with the soup). Add the tempered cream to the soup.
  • Add marjoram, lemon juice, chopped dill, and sugar. Season the soup with salt and pepper then adjust the seasonings to your taste – add more vinegar or lemon juice if it’s too sweet or add more sugar if it’s too sour. The soup should have a distinct flavor and taste sweet and sour.
  • Put some mashed potatoes into a soup plate, pour in some soup, top the potatoes with bacon and onions (you can also serve mashed potatoes, onions, and bacon on a separate plate).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Broth – use good-quality broth for the best-tasting soup, lots of people make this soup based on a vegetarian broth or rosół soup (Polish chicken soup) which often serves as a base for Polish soups. Rosol soup can be made with chicken or chicken and beef meat. If you have a good quality beef soup, you can add half chicken broth and half beef broth (I like to make rosół with chicken and beef meat (50:50) and use it to make this soup). If you don’t have a good quality beef broth, use just store-bought chicken broth, which usually tastes much better than beef broth.
  • Is it necessary to bake beets? No, actually most Polish recipes call for cooking beets in chicken or beef broth, but I have made two batches of this soup – one with roasted beets and one with boiled beets and the one with roasted beets was so much better. Roasted beets are sweeter and have a more concentrated flavor.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/6 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Soup
Cuisine polish
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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenda Stolecki
    9 November 2021 at 02:32

    4 stars
    I have never had mashed potatoes in my Christmas Eve Borscht. We would put a slice of rye bread, boiled egg and the sour cream in it. I suppose it is based on a “regional” taste, such as white or yellow cheese in potato pierogi, fruit or meat pierogi, etc.

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