Festive Beet Borscht

by Nava Atlas
Bright turquoise coquettes filled with bright red chunky borscht soup, garnished with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprig of dill.

Beet borscht, a gorgeous soup of Eastern European origin, is filled with summer-to fall produce and is as good (maybe better) served chilled as it is hot. Honestly, you can make borscht year round. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s a bit messy to make, I’d have it regularly. As it is, I most enjoy it on special occasions, such as Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year). It’s actually a favorite on this holiday for its subtle sweetness. A Russian proverb says, “Borscht and bread will make your cheeks red.” Serve this with slices of fresh vegan challah and see if it’s true. I don’t recommend making this soup unless you have a food processor with a grating blade. Of course, you could do this with a hand grater, but you may never forgive me.


6 medium beets, peeled and cut into large chunks (see Notes)
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large sweet apple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
¼ cup natural granulated sugar or agave, more or less to taste
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
¼ cup minced fresh dill
Vegan sour cream, optional (but highly recommended; see Notes)

  1. Grate the beets, carrots, apple, and onion in a food processor fitted with the grating blade. As the work bowl gets filled, transfer the grated ingredients to a large soup pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover the grated ingredients in the pot, then add the lemon juice and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until everything is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Adjust the consistency with more water if the vegetables are too densely packed. Season with salt and pepper (you can skip the salt if you’d like). Taste and add more lemon juice and/or sugar (or agave if using) to adjust the sweet and tangy balance to your liking.
  4. This is a good soup to make ahead of time. If you’d like to serve it chilled (which is how it really shines), let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, until chilled. To serve hot, heat through as needed before serving.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the dill. Reserve some for garnish, if you’d like. And if desired, top each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

  1. Peeling raw beets is never much fun. You can make it somewhat easier by microwaving the beets briefly (allowing 2 minutes per beet), then plunging into cold water for a while. Peeling will be much easier, and then they’ll cook more quickly as well.
  2. Fresh and festive, borscht is traditionally served with a dollop of sour cream, though that’s entirely optional. In our case, of course, we opt for vegan sour cream. Two great brands are Wayfair (based, amazingly, on butter beans and oats!) and Follow Your Heart (based on coconut and tapioca).
  3. Find more of Nava’s recipes at The Vegan Atlas and follow her on Facebook and on Instagram.