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National food

Buckwheat as side dish

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Sour cabbage (or sauerkraut)

Natonal soups

Borscht - famous red soup

Shchi - cabbage soup

Okroshka - soup with kvass

Solyanka - salted soup


Zefir - light dessert

Varenie - main Russian dessert


Kvass - Russian drink #1

Kefir - sour milk drink

Mors - berry drink

Kissel - dense drink

Kompot - fruit or berry


McDonalds in Russia

Borscht – famous Russian red beetroot soup


1 Introduction

2 What ingredient makes borscht red?

3 It is very important!

4 Cooking technology and list of ingredients

5 How and where to taste borscht in Moscow

6 How to bring borscht home from Russia

7 Is it Russian or Ukrainian dish?


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Borscht is the most well-known Russian dish in the world. Thanks to its bright red color, this soup has become one of symbols of Russia on a level with Matryoshka dolls and AK-47 assault rifle.

There are many recipes of borscht, and every region of Russia and Ukraine is proud of its own list of ingredients and preparation technology. During your travel to Moscow, you will find two most popular types of this soup – Ukrainian (“Ukrainsky”) and Moscow (“Moskovsky”). Other sorts of borscht are not widespread in Moscow restaurants and supermarkets, and you will have almost no chances to find them.

Borscht is one of the most frequently eaten dishes by Russians, its popularity can be compared only with pelmeni. In Moscow and Saint-Petersburg people eat borscht not so often, but outside a large city Russian people eat this soup at least 2 times in a week.

Some pages on the internet say borscht is only a sort of another national soup shchi, but it is not true. If you ask the Russians, then 99% of us will tell you shchi and borscht are two separate dishes. This wrong opinion has appeared because of sour cabbage is the popular ingredient for borscht. In fact, sour cabbage is not necessary for borscht. Some people call borscht with phrase “red shchi” or “brown shchi”, but these names are rarely used.

What ingredient makes borscht red?

Most of foreigners think the ingredient that gives borscht its red color is tomatoes. The truth is different; it is beetroot. You will find only a red beetroot in Russia, although yellow, white and even striped kinds can be found in other countries. Only a red beetroot is suitable for cooking borscht.

Tomato is also a common ingredient in borscht, but not necessary, and it does not take part in forming its red color. Tomato is used basically for better taste.

There are few recipes of orange and green borscht, but even we Russians perceive them as exotic. As foreigners, you are better to forget about it, because you have almost zero chances to meet these types.

It is very important!

Beetroot juice has a very bad property – it is a strong dye. You should be exceedingly careful eating borscht. If the soup spill to your clothes, then you probably will never erase it.

Cooking technology and list of ingredients

The main problem of cooking borscht is obtaining its bright red color. It is not so easy, as you maybe think. Beetroot juice rich red color can easily disappear. It keeps only in a low temperature and acidic environment. Otherwise, the color became poor.

The cooking technology simple. Borscht is based on beef or pork bouillon. You should prepare bullion first and then add vegetables. The only necessary ingredient is a beetroot. Other components are optional – onion, carrot, fresh or sour cabbage, potato and tomato.

If you boil this mix, you will not receive the rich color. That is why a beetroot should be stewed separately and added only in the end of the cooking process. Also, you should not let borscht boil strongly, because you have a risk to lose its bright color.

The preparation of beetroot, proper for genuine borscht, is the special process with a strict technology. A beetroot should be stewed in sunflower oil. Some cooks prefer to add vinegar or lemon acid. Otherwise the juice can lose its bright color.

There is another way to keep color; this method is popular in Belarus. Need to boil a whole beetroot for 20 minutes, and only after chopping and add it to the soup.

Borscht is served up with mayonnaise or sour cream. If you read other pages of our website, you will find we Russians eat a lot of dishes with sour cream – bliny, golybtsy, pelmeni, vareniki, syrniki and many others.

As many vegetable Russian soups, borscht “accumulates its taste” for 24 hours. We believe just cooked borscht is not most delicious. To make the soup better, you should wait for one day and then eat it. In Russia some housewives cook it at evening to offer to their family at lunch of next day.

How and where to taste borscht in Moscow

This dish is very popular. You can taste it in almost every restaurant. All national fast-foods have borscht in the menu – “Teremok”, “Mu-mu”, “Kroshka-Kartoshka” or “Melenka”. We do not recommend to degustate this soup in fast-foods. If you want to receive only a good experience in Russia, then it will better to visit a restaurant.

You can buy borscht in every supermarket. The first form is a dry soup inside a small bug. Click here to see the photo. This way is bad. If you watch for the list of ingredients on the surface of the bag, then you will think it was manufactured at chemical plant instead of food plant.

The second form is better. It is frozen borscht inside a carton box. You may see it in the photo on the right. This box contains few PE bags with ingredients inside. You should open these bags, mix the components with water and heat it until boiling. Then borscht is ready for consuming.

We have already told about this type of frozen soups in details on our page about solyanka soup. This manner requires an access to a kitchen or microwave oven.

The third form can be found in Russian supermarkets rarely, but it is a best choice. You can purchase conserved canned borscht. The jar contains the ready-to-eat soup inside, but the content is not hot. If you have access to a microwave oven, then you will be able to heat it. If not to heat, then it is eatable, but not very delicious.

This canned borscht is most delicious among all these three types. The flavour is different depending on manufacturer. The brand we show you in a photo on the right is one of the best in Russia. It is easy to remember thanks to picture of chief cook (see photo) on the top surface of its can. It is called “Master shef” translates as “Master Chief”.

How to bring borscht home from Russia

If you want to use original borscht as a delicious gift, we will advise to buy few metal cans. The storage time is about one year, and the package is safe for transporting.

Is it Russian or Ukrainian dish?

Ukrainians consider borscht originates from their country, and this soup is their main national dish. They think the same about vareniki. In fact, this soup is an essential part of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarus, Polish, Rumanian and Lithuanian cuisines.

The separation of our nations happened only in the 16th century. There are many dishes that almost the same in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Borscht is one in this list. Ukrainian classical borscht has one serious difference from Russian sorts. It is based on dense bullion. It is believed, if you cool genuine Ukrainian borscht to the 10 degrees or colder, then an inserted spoon should stand, not fall.

We wish you delicious borscht and read other articles at our website (see the list of links below and in the left column of this page).

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I remember having borscht in Moscow on my second day in Russia in a basement cantina. Babushka refused to serve me less than a completely full bowl,then asked me with gestures if I would like sour cream. I replied "yeah". She shook her head and said "Dah". I got big smiles when I replied, "dah, pozhalustya".

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