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Borscht with a dollop of sour cream

What Does Borscht Taste Like?

Borscht is a traditional sour soup originating from Eastern Europe and Northern Asia that has found its way into countless kitchens and restaurants around the globe. The name "borscht" is often closely tied to the Ukrainian variant, which features red beets that give this Ukrainian dish its iconic red color. So, what does borscht taste like, exactly? Today, we delve into the complex flavors of borscht, focusing mainly on three distinct variations offered by Veselka to satisfy your culinary curiosity.

What Does Borscht Taste Like?

Borscht is a beet soup that's warm, sweet, and sour all in one bowl. It has the umami and complexity of a well-developed chicken soup but the beets add a whole different flavor profile.

Its sweetness comes from the beets, onions, and cabbage, and its tartness from tomatoes and vinegar. Some meat can be added for richness. For a better borscht experience, many people enjoy adding sour cream, yogurt, or fresh herbs. It's warm, sweet, full of umami, and sour all in one bowl.

At Veselka, we offer many versions, each boasting a rich and layered taste. Let's explore these borscht varieties: 

  • Ukrainian meat borscht: This hearty variation brings in savory and umami flavors from beef and pork. Veselka's Ukrainian Meat Borscht is an iconic rendition of this traditional dish. In this, red beets and a medley of vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, and lima beans are simmered in a beef stock that's rich and full of depth. Pieces of pork rump add an extra layer of savories. The result is a multidimensional soup, perfect for warming up on a chilly night.
  • Vegetarian borscht: Experience the authentic taste and richness of classic borscht with Veselka's Vegetarian Borscht, a plant-based alternative. This filling soup is ideal for those who prefer a meatless option, made with red beets, potatoes, cabbage, and lima beans, simmered in a specially crafted vegetable stock that is rich and layered. To enhance the flavor, we also include celery and carrots, making it a hearty soup that is perfect for any season, not just the colder months.
  • Cold borscht: Many people turn to Veselka's Cold Borscht as their top choice during hot weather. This dish perfectly blends buttermilk's tanginess and the sweetness of sugar and beets, making it ideal for summer. Aromatic white vinegar, dill notes, and a crisp hint of cucumber complement the dish's refreshing taste. It's the ideal pick-me-up on a sweltering summer afternoon.

Each variety of Veselka's borscht offers an authentic taste experience that pays homage to Ukrainian culinary traditions while also catering to diverse dietary preferences. Whether you are vegetarian, gluten-free, or simply a fan of delectable soups, Veselka has a borscht that suits your palate.

Recommended Ingredients to Serve with Borscht

When indulging in Veselka's borscht, you can elevate your dining experience to the next level by combining its delectable sweetness and tanginess with a variety of complementary or contrasting textures and flavors. This classic soup can be paired with a range of side options, including hearty burgers, French-fried meats, egg noodles, and dairy products. You can also choose from a variety of beverages, such as cranberry or grapefruit juice, to accompany your meal perfectly.

Find out more about 12 side dishes for your borscht.

Besides, adding smoked sausage like kielbasa ring to borscht creates a delicious contrast between smoky and earthy flavors. For those who prefer fish, smoked fish provides a maritime twist that complements the dish well. To refresh the palate, peach salad offers a fabulous break from the richness of borscht, while lentil salad or our East village spinach salad adds texture and tanginess to elevate the dining experience.


Is borscht always red?

No, borscht is not always red. While the red from beets is iconic for borscht, there are variations of the soup that do not include beets and, therefore, are not red. For example, white borscht could be made with fermented rye as its base ingredient. At Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant, borscht is naturally red from using beets and does not include any food colorings. 

How is borscht different from other beet soups?

Borscht stands out from other soups due to its blend of ingredients and cultural significance. Although there are other beet soups around the world, borscht is closely linked to Slavic culture and has a deep history and meaning. The crucial elements that define borscht are the use of beets and the perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors.

Is borscht supposed to be sweet?

Borscht has a naturally sweet undertone because of the beets. However, it is balanced with savory, sour, and sometimes spicy elements, so it isn't overwhelmingly sweet. Sweet and sour flavors predominate in borscht. Beet sour is typically added to create this mixture.

What's the best season to enjoy borscht?
People tend to favor a hearty borscht soup when the weather is chilly. However, a cold borscht soup can provide a refreshing and satisfying option during the warmer months.

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