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Botvinka – Red Beet Leaf and Herb Soup

botvinka-red-beet-leaf-and-herb-soupOnce my garden produces an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, the time is right to cook Botvinka.  Soups are very popular in Eastern Europe, and are the first course of a lunch of dinner meal, just like tossed salads in the US.

The name for this soup derives from the description of the tops (botvinka (in Polish)- leaves and stalks) of very young red beet plants, which are the major ingredient in this soup.

This dish is full of  goodness of fresh, young, green leafy vegetables, and because they are so tender, they require very short cooking time.


I prepared this recipe in a vegetarian style, but you can use chicken, or beef, broth as the base, if you prefer it that way.

Botvinka – Red Beet Leaf and Herb Soup

Botvinka – Red Beet Leaf and Herb Soup


  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 medium potatoes, coarsely grated
  • 2 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chives, chopped
  • 2/3 cup Dill Weed, chopped
  • 1 cup red beet stems, chopped
  • 2 cups red beet leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Maggie Seasoning
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup sweet cream (half and half, heavy cream, or whole milk)
  • ¼ cup Sour Cream or Oikos Organic Greek Plain Yogurt
  • 3 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ tsp. black pepper


  1. Fill a soup pot with 10 cups of water, add salt and bay leave and start cooking.
  2. Chop up the onions and sauté for 2 minutes in canola oil.
  3. Chop the garlic and add to onions, add the butter, and sauté another minute.
  4. Add onions and garlic to soup stock.
  5. Prepare all your vegetables:
  6. Rinse and pat dry all vegetables.
  7. Remove any damaged leaves and stalks.  Cut off thins roots from any beets attached to stalks.
  8. Coarsely shred potatoes and carrots.
  9. Chop the red beet leaves (botvinka), chives, dill, and parsley. Set aside.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots to soup stock, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes
  11. Add all remaining vegetables, and cook another 2 minutes.
  12. Mix tomato paste with cream/milk until smooth, and add to the soup.
  13. Bring to boil, and cook for 1minute.
  14. Add pepper, Maggie Seasoning, and Balsamic Vinegar.
  15. Cook for a minute and turn off the heat.
  16. Put  sour cream in a cup, and add some  hot soup stock (2 Tbs.) at a time, and keep on mixing it until it looks smooth, not lumpy.
  17. Add to the pot of soup.  DO NOT boil again, because the sour cream with curdle.


You can serve with chopped dill, and a spoonful of sour cream as a garnish.

12 thoughts on “Botvinka – Red Beet Leaf and Herb Soup”

  1. Lori says:

    Yum! My sister and brother-in-law are coming to visit next weekend and we might just give this a try. I love beets and I’m thinking this would be a good one to try out.

  2. Suburban Grandma says:

    If they like slightly tart vegetable soups, they might like this one. You can add more vinegar to your taste. Some of our family members like to mix in a spoonful of sour cream into their soup just before eating it.

  3. Linda says:

    This recipe was excellent!! I’m from Latvia and have missed all the different soups we have. I made this after I made borscht, and made my own beef stock with the leftover soup bones. Even my very American boyfriend liked it. Delicious!

  4. Suburban Grandma says:

    I am so pleased to hear that you tried this recipe and liked the results.
    My husband loves soups, so I will be posting more soup recipes in the future.
    Thank you for sharing your comments.

  5. Audrey says:

    I just found this recipe and am so happy to find something to do with the beet leaves I have. I have never had this soup but did grow up on beet Borscht. I am making this without the Maggie seasoning as I do not have any. Wish me luck. I am wondering what to do with the butter listed in the recipe. It doesn’t say anything in the instructions.

  6. Suburban Grandma says:

    I know what you mean. Discarding all these beet leaves seems like a waste. It must have been a very creative, or frugal cook, who created the original recipe.
    My apologies for the butter skip….I just updated the recipe and you add the butter to the sauteed onions at the same time you add the chopped garlic. Butter adds a nice flavor to the soup, but if you watch your diet, you can actually skip it all together.
    Maggie adds a nice flavor, but you can enhance the flavor with other spices, or some chopped dill weed.
    I hope you will like this soup.
    Thank you for your comments.

  7. Audrey says:

    I LOVE the soup and I’m making more tonight. I did a search for a substitution for Maggi seasoning & found one that said to use Soy Sauce and Worchestershire Sauce in equal amounts for the Maggi. So I used 1 Tablespoon of each.
    I don’t use much oil when I cook. I actually used only 2 tsps of canola oil when I made this soup last week.
    Since I wanted to make this soup a complete meal I wanted to add some protein but didn’t have any meat thawed, so I stirred in 1/2 cup cottage cheese into my bowl. I learned that trick a from a recipe I found a couple of years ago. My husband who doesn’t like cottage cheese loved that soup. It melted right in. He couldn’t find the cottage cheese lumps.

  8. Suburban Grandma says:

    I am so pleased that your Botvinka soup came out great, and you and your family enjoyed it. Wow…amazing…I never thought about adding cottage cheese….my husband and I love mixing in sour cream into out veggie soups. I love cottage cheese, so I will try that next time.
    You know you can freeze this soup as well, for later use, but before adding the cottage cheese.
    Thank you for much for sharing your comments.

  9. Audrey says:

    I goofed, I should have said that I used 1/2 Tbs of the soy sauce and 1/2 Tbs of the worchestershire sauce.
    Good idea about freezing some soup. I did already freeze beet leaves. It will be easier that way, then it will take less space in the freezer.
    I’m adding sorrel leaves to the next batch I make.

    I got the idea for adding the cottage cheese after I made this soup about two years ago…

  10. Suburban Grandma says:

    Wow…you have sorrel leaves….super. I also grow them in my garden, and we love making sorrel soup (borscht). Did you ever try sorrel soup? I have a posted recipe the way my mother-in-law was making it –

  11. Audrey says:

    I think I had sorrel soup years ago but don’t remember what it was like. The stuff grows wild around here so it is easy to find. I have found some growing in my garden as weeds (I didn’t plan it), so I’ve left some to grow.
    I am going to try the recipe for Sorrel Soup.Thanks for sharing the recipe. The growing season is pretty well done here. Just waiting for a killing frost before I pick my winter squash. Soon I will have to pull my beets and pickle them. TTFN

  12. Suburban Grandma says:

    I do agree that sorrel does grow wild in some places, but I have to plant mine in my veggie garden.
    So you like red beets….so do I…please check out my recipes for red beets salads/vinaigrette and borscht recipes.
    I prefer warm weather, but winter is just around the corner for our area as well. Thank you for sharing your comments.

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