mushroom borscht by Natalia Bozhok

The tradition of cooking borscht dates back centuries and is passed on from generation to generation.

With hundreds of variations of borscht, my grandmother says, “There are as many borscht recipes as there are families in Ukraine.”

In our family, we cook borscht often. My mother, my grandmother and my aunts each use a different recipe – and I love all of them. This meatless version of Ukrainian borscht is served on fast days and for Christmas Eve as part of Ukrainian Christmas dinner (sviat vechir), a traditional 12-dish meal.

Recipe and photos by Nataliia Bozhok, who moved to Calgary from the Ukraine in 2023 with her husband.

Mushroom Borscht

This vegetarian version of the classic borscht dish features a savory broth, tender chunks of mushrooms, and the distinctive ruby-red hue from the addition of beets, creating a comforting and satisfying dish.
Servings 4


  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 11 oz white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds
  • 1/2 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 medium beets (beetroot), peeled and grated
  • 3 tsp tomato paste or ketchup
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 7 oz fresh mushrooms, cut into large slices
  • finely chopped parsley, dill, chives for garnish
  • sour cream, fresh bread, optional


  • In a large pot, boil 4 litres (1 gallon) of water and add a pinch of salt.
  • Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add cabbage and bell pepper, continue cooking for 20 minutes on low heat.
  • Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add beets and continue sauteeing until the beets are soft.
  • When the beets are soft, add tomato paste and a splash of water.
  • Add black pepper, one clove of minced garlic and vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • In a second pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and add mushrooms. Saute until the moisture has almost completely evaporated.
  • Transfer the mushrooms from the pan to the pot.
  • After 5 minutes, add the sautéed vegetables to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Let it stand covered for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and fresh bread.