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Elk Borscht

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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Ukrainian
Servings 8



  • 2 lbs elk stew meat
  • 1 large onion diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 large leek diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lb medium beets peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • ½ lb medium carrots peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 3 cups beet leaves chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Horseradish Cream

  • 2 tbsp fresh horseradish grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • 1 cup thick sour cream or Greek yogurt


  • Add olive oil to a heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook venison until just browned. Pull out of the pot and place aside. Give it a taste. If it is a tougher cut I would add it into the soup when you add the root vegetables. If it is tender, then wait until the very end.
  • When the oil is hot, add onion, celery, and leek, stir to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring, until onion is just beginning to brown. Add garlic, tomato paste, paprika, caraway seed, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook 1 minute more, stirring.
  • Add potatoes, beets and carrots, 6 cups water and 1½ tsp salt, or to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a brisk simmer with lid ajar for 20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to make sure you don’t overcook the root vegetables. You want them to be fork-tender. Your beets will be the last to get to that point. If you have a tougher cut of meat, add it back in now.
  • Add beet leaves and vinegar, and stir to distribute. Taste broth and adjust seasoning as necessary. Simmer about seven minutes until the beet leaves wilt and become just soft. Don’t let them go too long. If your venison is tender and juicy you’ll add it in as you pull the pot off the burner. I added mine in and let the liquid reheat the meat.
  • Prepare the horseradish cream. If you have prepped these ingredients beforehand you can easily do this step while the root vegetables cook. Put horseradish, lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Let macerate 5 minutes, then stir in your sour cream.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with your fresh herbs. Cover with a healthy dollop of horseradish cream. This goes well with a loaf of fresh bread. I prefer a “sheepherder” loaf that I can just pull apart as I eat. Enjoy!
Keyword Elk, Venison
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