Polish Christmas Eve Beet Soup (Barszcz Wigilijny)

Beetroot Soup
ma-k / Getty Images
  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Ferment: 72 hrs
  • Yield: 6 Bowls (6 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
213 Calories
2g Fat
45g Carbs
7g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 Bowls (6 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 331mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Protein 7g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Polish Christmas Eve beet soup (barszcz wigilijny) is from chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Crakow, Poland.

While many beet soup recipes call for beef stock, meat or bones, since this is a Polish Christmas Eve supper (wigilia) recipe, it must be meatless.

The soup is made with a beet sour (kwas) that must ferment for at least three days before using and vegetable stock. The traditional way to eat barszcz wigilijny is with mushroom uszka or paszteciki.

At the Culinary Institute in Crakow, Chef Mark and his staff offer classes in everything from peasant food to gourmet cuisine, tailoring them to the individual's needs, in Polish, English and other languages.


  • For the Beet Sour (Kwas):
  • 3 1/2 pounds beets (peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 1 slice rye bread (with crust)
  • For the Beet Soup:
  • 1 pound beets (peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 1/2 pound vegetables (Polish soup vegetables: carrot, parsnip, celery root, leek, peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic (mashed with a little salt)
  • 2 cups beet sour
  • 1 dried mushroom (soak and reserve 1/4 cup strained liquid)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this soup is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Beet Sour (Kwas)

  1. Place the beets in a large crock or ceramic bowl.

  2. Cover with pre-boiled lukewarm water. Add the bread with the crust, pushing it under the water.

  3. Cover the crock or bowl with cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for three days.

  4. Strain through cheesecloth, pour into a glass jar and seal it. Store in the fridge. You may eat the strained beets or discard them.

Make the Beet Soup

  1. Place the beets, Polish soup vegetables (włoszczna) in a large stockpot.

  2. Add 6 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon of the butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.

  3. Strain, pressing on vegetables to extract every last ounce of liquid.

  4. Return the strained liquid to the pot and add mashed garlic with a little salt, the beet sour (kwas), strained mushroom soaking liquid, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

  6. Before serving, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter and parsley.

  7. Ladle into hot bowls and serve with mushroom uszka.