Recipe: A warming winter Borscht

Borscht – or beetroot stew – which originates from Ukraine, is a delicious soup and a very versatile dish. I’ve personally been experimenting with it for years, trying out various ingredients to pack it full of even more colour and flavour. This is my take on the dish, and I encourage you to try out the combinations that work for you and your family.


This recipe can be made vegan or vegetarian, depending on your preference, and what’s available in your cupboards. It’s a great dish to introduce into your regular rotation of meals, and for those of us short on time, can be prepared in a slow cooker.

Borscht (beetroot stew)

Serves 4


  • 200g smoked pancetta
  • 500g ready cooked beetroot
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 small onion/shallot/leek
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp of dried herbs (thyme, basil, sage)
  • 1 litre beef or vegetable stock
  • 400g can of beans (black beans, kidney beans or butter beans)
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh bread (to serve)
  • Fresh chilli to garnish (optional)

Go veggie: Swap the meat for an extra can of beans and 2 handfuls of mushrooms.


  1. If using, add the pancetta to the pot with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook on a medium heat until browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Grate the beetroot and carrot. Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.
  3. Chop the onion finely and if using, slice the mushrooms. Add to the pot with the pancetta.
  4. On a medium heat, start warming the vegetables. Add a pinch of salt, paprika and dried herbs. Combine and cook for 1–2 minutes.
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30–40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.
  6. If using, add the beans for the final 5 minutes, stirring to combine.
  7. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some freshly buttered bread.

To feed a larger family or for leftovers, increase the ingredients accordingly. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2–3 days.

The healthy bit

Beetroot is known for its benefits in cardiovascular (heart) health, and increased exercise performance. To top that, beetroot is a great source of folate, potassium, iron, and fibre – not to mention, its beautiful colour and distinct flavour. It is a great food that all of us should be utilising more in our diets. 

In addition, you have all the goodness of the other vegetables in this recipe, making it a great vitamin and mineral-boosting meal. It’s particularly rich in vitamins A and C as well as a good source of both fibre and magnesium. The high protein content – provided by the variety of beans, mushrooms, and/or meat – will ensure a feeling of fullness and satiety, and is important for balancing our blood sugar and general wellbeing. 

This is definitely a meal to add to your repertoire, not only for its great nutritional status but also for how simple and cost-effective it is to make. Trust me, even those who say they don’t like the taste of beetroot will be convinced by this! 

This article was published in Happiful Magazine (Issue 79). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app

Looking for more inspiration? Visit our Recipe hub.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, Greater London, E18
Written by Laura Semmens
London, Greater London, E18

Laura Semmens (DipNT, mBANT, CNHC) is a nutritional therapist and educator who specialises in sleep support and gut health, including chronic conditions.

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