Community Food 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 the birth of baby Jesus and even silly presents you don’t even 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!


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.


It’s better if you prepare the barszcz 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 juice 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 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 is usually served in a special cup with two handles and drunk directly.


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

  1. Pingback: Carp for Christmas: the odd Central European tradition explained – Kafkadesk

  2. Pingback: Polish Christmas Recipes: Makowiec, the famous Christmas Eve poppy seed roll – Kafkadesk

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