Home / Soup Recipes / Chilled Summertime Vegetarian Beet Borscht Recipe

Chilled Summertime Vegetarian Beet Borscht Recipe

Taking a classic vegetarian borscht recipe and adapting it for summer! The silky magenta soup is refreshing, earthy, and completely satisfying. Perfect for a scorching day when you want something with more body than gazpacho but just as vibrant.

A white bowl filled with chilled beet borscht topped with croutons.

This smooth and creamy chilled borscht recipe has been on my summer rotation for years. I first fell in love with it when I worked as a pastry chef at Firefly Restaurant in San Francisco.

I worked the early morning shift and my workstation during the day became the salad and cold appetizer station at night. The reach-in refrigerator under my work bench held all kinds of goodies, including a soul-satisfying container of chilled beet borscht.

I didn’t like to have to fight my way for stove space to heat something up for breakfast so I usually just ate what was in front of me—or, in this case, under me. This delicious vegetarian borscht recipe was often a welcome refuge in the hot kitchen. Even at nine in the morning.

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    What Is Borscht?

    A close up of a bowl of borscht topped with dill and sour cream.

    Borscht is a soup popular in Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Russia. Red borscht soup is typically served hot and made with a rich beef broth, fresh vegetables like cabbage, occasionally red kidney beans and its main ingredient—beets.

    There is also a completely different soup called green borscht that is made with yellow potatoes and sorrel leaves instead of beets.

    This chilled variation on borscht is different from the traditional beet soup in a few ways:

    • It is served cold.
    • The soup is pureed into a velvety broth. Traditional borscht has meaty chunks of red cabbage and beets.
    • Cold water is used instead of beef broth but it is still surprisingly complicated and filling. Using water also means this is a vegan recipe! If you add the sour cream garnish, then it is no longer vegan, obviously.

    A 7-Ingredient Soup

    All the ingredients needed to make the chilled beet borscht.

    In addition to the ingredients listed below, I like to garnish each bowl of soup with caraway-spiced croutons, a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill, but these are all optional. For the soup you’ll need:

    1. Beets: I like using red beets for their bright crimson color.
    2. Yellow onions: Add body and complexity. If you can find sweet onions, even better.
    3. Olive oil: For roasting the beets and onions. This roasting step is crucial to caramelize the vegetables and add sweetness.
    4. Kosher salt: To make the flavors pop.
    5. Black pepper: Just enough to dance on the tongue.
    6. Cold water: Instead of broth in this cold soup.
    7. Balsamic vinegar: This is the secret ingredient. It adds the perfect amount of tang and sweet. Don’t substitute other vinegars like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, they will be too sour.

    How To Make This Chilled Version Of Borscht

    See the recipe card for detailed instructions.

    step one

    Roast the vegetables. Like we do with our roasted beets and carrots, the first step is to cut the beets and onions into bite-sized pieces, toss with a little oil and roast in a hot oven until the sweetness of beets has reached its peak.

    step two

    Puree. Once the root vegetables are cool, transfer them to a blender or food processor. Add the salt, cold water, and balsamic vinegar and puree until very smooth.

    The borscht pureed in the blender.

    step three

    Chill. The final step is to transfer the healthy soup to an airtight container, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or until it is nice and cold and the flavors have a chance to meld. After it is cold, taste again and stir in more salt or vinegar if needed.

    A close up of a bowl of borscht with sour cream and dill on top.

    Serve this beautiful sweet and sour soup in small bowls or cups with a sprinkling of fresh herbs (dill is my personal favorite), a little bit of sour cream, and a few crunchy croutons. For a special occasion you could also serve it in shot glasses with minced dill on top.

    Testing Notes

    A white bowl filled with red beet borscht topped with sour cream.

    This vegan borscht recipe is fairly straightforward but here are a few tips I noticed when testing the recipe.

    Roast the beets until a fork easily slides through. Just like with our roasted beet salad recipe, you want to give the beets enough time to roast and bring out their natural sweetness. The tender beets will also puree easier. I find it best however, to roast the beets most of the way first and then add the onions. This will keep the onions from burning and becoming bitter.

    Use ground caraway. If you decide to make your own caraway crouton garnish, use ground caraway instead of caraway seeds. I used caraway seeds on the first test which I crushed in a molcajete but they just fell to the bottom of the baking sheet. You could skip the croutons if you’d like and serve the soup with rye bread instead.

    Double the recipe. The first time I made the recipe it made a large batch, about 8 cups, so I cut the recipe in half. If you are serving this for a party or just want to have plenty of leftovers, double it!

    Top 5 Most Popular Soup Recipes

    If you are a soup-lover like me, you may also enjoy these recipes:

    1. Tomato Soup with Rice and Dill. Fresh tomatoes fortified with rich tomato paste. A big pot of this soup is perfect for tomato fanatics.
    2. Mushroom Leek and Barley Soup. A warming but light vegetarian soup flavored with bay leaf and brightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in every bowl.
    3. Thai-Inspired Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup. A creamy (but vegan) soup with the Thai flavors of green curry and coconut milk.
    4. Super Easy Pasta Fagioli. Load with garlic and simmer for just 10 minutes, and done!
    5. Slow Cooker Split Pea and Ham. Just like this yummy borscht recipe, this hearty soup is gluten-free and super comforting.

    I Can’t Wait For You To Try This Vegetarian Borscht Recipe!

    Please share your thoughts, experiences, or any modifications you made to the recipe in the comments below! I always love hearing from you. -Kate

    A white bowl filled with chilled beet borscht topped with croutons.

    Chilled Beet Borscht

    Author: Kate
    Taking a classic vegetarian borscht recipe and adapting it for summer! The silky magenta soup is refreshing, earthy, and completely satisfying. Perfect for a scorching day when you want something with more body than gazpacho but just as vibrant.
    Print Pin Rate
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Servings: 6 servings



    • Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet large enough to hold the beets and onions in a single layer with parchment paper. Place the 1 pound peeled and chopped beets on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss the beets in the oil and put in the oven to roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the onions toss everything with another 1/2 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Toss until vegetables are evenly coated. Spread into a single layer. Roast vegetables another 15 minutes or until a fork easily goes through a beet. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F to make the croutons.
    • Place caraway seeds in a mortar or molcajete and crush into a powder or use ground caraway if you can find it.
    • Combine bread cubes the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the ground caraway seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt on a baking sheet. Toss until well combined. Then spread into an even layer.
    • Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool.
    • Meanwhile, blend the soup. Combine cooled beets and onions with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 3 cups cold water, and 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a blender. Start blender on low then gradually increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute. You may need to do this in batches if you have a smaller blender.
    • While you can enjoy this right away it is best if it has a few hours to chill in the refrigerator and let the ingredients meld and blend.
    • To serve, ladle borscht into small bowls and top with a few croutons, a swirl of sour cream, and a sprinkling of chopped dill.


    1. Roasting: Roast the beets for about 30 minutes before adding the onions. This will keep the onions from burning and turning bitter. 
    2. Herbs: Swap out the dill for fresh parsley, chives, or mint for a different twist.
    3. Blending: Use a high-powered blender for the smoothest consistency.
    4. Make-ahead: The soup can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
    5. Croutons: The croutons can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

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