Plant-Based Borscht | Oil-Free Recipes

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There’s a really good reason that Borscht has become popular in the United States over the past few years. It’s not a new soup – it originated in Eastern Europe in the late 19th century – but its popularity has grown as people have become more focused on healthy eating. And, what better way to celebrate nutrient-dense foods than with a plant-based borscht recipe?

You see, this soup is originally super beefy, often made with short ribs or brisket. Even versions that don’t have chunks of beef usually use beef broth as the base. You may know that I’m an avid follower of plant-based diet – did you know that’s how I lost 150 pounds in less than one year and reversed my Type 2 diabetes? So, you can completely understand why I wanted to take this healthful soup and transform it into a plant-based borscht recipe.

 All About Borscht

You’ll recognize borscht – traditional or not – by its distinctive red color. The red color comes from the addition of a ton of beets (along with carrots and other root vegetables). This stunning color is a great signal of all the nutrition you’re about ingest! In addition to being rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, beets are chock full of vitamins and minerals. You can even use beets as a detox food because they’re rich in betalains.

In addition to its iconic color, you may also recognize the slightly sour flavor of borscht. That’s  derived from the lactic acid buildup of fermented sautéed vegetables. Those fermented vegetables also deliver probiotics, which promote gut health. The dish isn’t too sour tasting, though, because it’s well balanced by garnishes. You’ll likely find borscht served with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of hearty, sour bread.

Plant-Based Borscht is Less than 100 Calories.

We didn’t want to get rid of any of that traditional flavor, but we wanted to boost the nutrition by converting this recipe into a plant-based borscht version. It was also important to us to reduce the time commitment for making this healthful soup. Because traditional versions require a multi-day wild fermentation process to build that iconic sour flavor, it usually takes a long time to prepare. So, we took a few shortcuts that don’t sacrifice flavor!

This modernized plant-based borscht is very quick to prepare because we use lemon juice instead of fermenting vegetables. We also boosted up the vegetable content – adding celery root, zucchini, bell pepper, and cabbage to the traditional recipe. Finally, we provided a recipe for a delicious, low-calorie vegan sour cream to use as garnish. Because borscht just isn’t the same without sour cream!

This plant-based borscht is good any day of the week. It’s well-suited for lunch and dinner, but I’ve also eaten it for breakfast because it’s that good! You can eat it cold or hot, but it’s especially good when served warm with  a sour bread (such as a sourdough or rye).

If you’ve had traditional borscht, we’d love to know what you think of this plant-based version. Let us know in the comments if it lives up to your expectations!

Plant-Based Borscht | Oil-Free Recipes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves 6

Plant-Based Borscht | Oil-Free Recipes

Yields: 6 cups | Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 78 | Total Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 79mg | Carbohydrates: 17g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Protein: 3g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 1


  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 pound celery root
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper
  • 6 ounces or 1/4 head small red cabbage
  • 1/2 pound or 2 medium beets
  • 3 cups vegetable broth, plus additional broth for liquid sauté
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (optional)
    Tofu Sour Cream (optional)
  • 1 (12 ounce container) extra firm silken tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste


  1. Peel and wash the vegetables.
  2. Grate the carrots, celery root, zucchini, red cabbage, and beets using a food processor or medium grate.
  3. Chop the onion, tomato, and bell pepper into 1/2 inch cubes or smaller.
  4. Liquid sauté grated and chopped vegetables in pan for 3 to 5 minutes: Heat several tablespoons of vegetable broth in a pan over medium-high heat until bubbling, then add veggies and liquid sauté until just al dente, just as you would with oil, frequently deglazing pan with wooden spatula and additional broth if it evaporates.
  5. Heat 3 cups vegetable broth in large pot until boiling, then reduce heat to simmer.
  6. Add sautéed veggies to broth and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until veggies are tender.
  7. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon to taste for traditional sour flavor.
    Tofu Sour Cream (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients in high speed blender then puree until smooth and creamy.
  2. Chill before serving.
  3. Store in refrigerator in sealed container and use within 2 weeks.
    Optional: serve as garnish, finely chopped parsley and a dollop of freshly made tofu sour cream

Eric O’Grey is an inspirational speaker with a Bachelor of Science from San Jose State University and a Doctor of Law degree from Emory University. Eric enjoys long-distance running with his dog, Jake; gourmet plant-based cooking; and spending time with his wife, Jaye.

He is passionate about animal kindness, plant-based nutrition, and helping others reverse obesity and achieve their optimal weight and happiness. Learn more about Eric and his initiatives at and in his new book, Walking with Peety.

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4 Comments on "Plant-Based Borscht | Oil-Free Recipes"

  1. Ree  September 8, 2019

    I’m assuming you put the celery root in the food processor.

  2. Brenda  March 31, 2020

    Where’s the protein other than tofu?…I’m not fond of tofu….any other choices for protein? Plain yogurt? How much protein grams should be eaten each day? Thx

    • Nichole Furlong  April 5, 2020

      Borcht does not typically have protein, you could substitute Greek yogurt instead of the tofu cream.


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