Magazine Poland

Polish Christmas Recipes: Barszcz Czerwony, the traditional Christmas Eve beetroot soup

December has arrived, and that means only one thing: Christmas time is here! Now if you’re a bit like us, you won’t care much for silly presents you don’t really need, for Christmas’ main attraction is food, and there’s no present like a gloriously filled Christmas table.

With this in mind, Kafkadesk’s very own Chef Paulina Kotkowska has prepared a series of Polish Christmas recipes to countdown to C-Day! What’s on the menu today? Her Barszcz Czerwony, the traditional Christmas Eve beetroot soup…

Barszcz is a well-known soup in Central and Eastern Europe. You can find it prepared with meat, a hard-boiled egg or some vegetable inside. This traditional recipe named “barszcz szysty” (clean barszcz) is just a beetroot broth served for Christmas Eve dinner. In fact, you traditionally don’t eat meat at Christmas Eve dinner in Poland!

Easy to make and delicious, it is also a perfect soup for cold winter evenings. Its nice burgundy colour will bring a nice hint of colour to your table and will certainly intrigue your guests!

Barszcz czerwony recipe

Yields: 4 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes


  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • The white part of 1 leek
  • A small piece of a celery
  • 10g dried cep mushroom
  • 0,5l. beetroot juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Fresh dill or dried marjoram


  • Soak the dried cep in a bowl of water.
  • Peel the onion and cut it in half.
  • Peel the carrots and the celery and cut them coarsely.
  • Clean the white part of the leek and cut it also coarsely.
  • Put all the vegetables in a pan; add the rehydrated cep roughly cut and one liter of water and heat gently in order to make a vegetable broth (around one hour).
  • When the broth is ready, remove all the vegetables from the pan and add the beetroot juice. Heat it up but don’t boil it because it will lose its colour.
  • Crush the garlic clove and add it to the broth.
  • Add the fresh lemon juice according to your taste. You have to end up with a sweet and sour soup.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with some chopped fresh dill or some dried marjoram.

Kafkadesk notes

It’s better if you prepare the barszcz czerwony one day before to let it rest and allow the flavours to blend.

If you don’t have any beetroot juice, you can make your own from a process of lacto-fermentation. Peel two medium-sized beetroots and cut them into rings. Mix one liter of cold boiled water with 2 tsp of salt. Put the beetroots in a jar, add 3 garlic cloves cut in half and the salted water. Cover with a tissue and keep it at room temperature during one week, until the juice ferments and becomes sour. You can then add this juice to the vegetable broth. It should not be necessary to add some lemon juice.

Barszcz is traditionally served with “uszka” a kind of small pierogis (ravioli) stuffed with ceps, or “krokiety” a puff pastry with the same stuffing cooked in the oven. When it is with uszka, the barszcz is usually served in soup plate and eaten with a spoon. When it is with krokiety it’s usually served in a special cup with two handles and drunk directly.


Don’t forget to also check out Chef Kotkowska’s other Christmas recipes: like her Ryba po Grecku, her gingerbread Pierniczki świąteczne and of course, her delicious deserts, Makowiec and Sernik.

7 comments on “Polish Christmas Recipes: Barszcz Czerwony, the traditional Christmas Eve beetroot soup

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  6. NO !!!!!!
    First of all: « Uszka » (ears)! = Italian « Ravioli » – nothing in common but size !!!!!!!!! It’s totally different !!!! Every house in PL has a way to prepare it, but still – NOTHING in common with ravioli dumplings !!!!
    For clean « Borscht » – the simplest recipe for foreigners: just like chicken soup, but use FRESH, cleaned beetroot – cook it slowly with vegetables for a looooong time on small fire (4-5? Hrs) Traditional way for « barszcz » for christmas is without any meat or bones if you do not care – use bouillon (chicken soup) as a base. Then add some garlic of course. The result should be « clean » broth – deep red in color like a god wine. Seriously you can heal the baby with this soup, it has a lot of iron, (supplement of diet for pregnant and basically all women – special during period) You will enjoy sweet-garlic-hot-spicy-mmmmrrrr 🙂 You can eat it from a plate like soup, you can have it in a mug and heat in microwave. Here in Poland you can buy instant soup – instant soup « Borscht » is like instant « Ramen » soup
    Regarding « Uszka » = small dumplings eaten with « Borsch » – in my opinion there is no real taste – so i will just skip it. But – remember All of U – « Uszka » it is not Ravioli IT, not like Pielmieni in UA, RU. The only way to taste it – is to visit PL, meet some friends and have christmas eve supper with them, with « borscht » + « fish in Greek » + « carp in jelly » + lot of home made cakes + home made alcohol ( there is always the old uncle one who is still doing it; instead of buying 0.5l of vodka in the shop for 5 eur;))
    Simply, visit Poland – and WROCLAW city for sure 🙂

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