Soup’s on…and it’s fuchsia!
The kind of soup I wanted to make was a pretty easy decision, especially when other versions of it were shown during soup week – Lithuanian Borscht, also known as cold beet soup. The reason I chose this soup, is because it reminds me of my nana & papa (mom’s parents) and my heritage. My grandparents left Lithuania & came to Canada during WWI, even though my mom was born in Canada, between her parents & their neighbours, she had a very European upbringing. Since we spent a lot of time with my nana & papa while growing up, we were raised with a love for eastern european food: meat, potato pancakes, perogies, mushrooms, onions, beets and dill. My love of beets started young and is still going strong! My nana and papa made beets many different ways, but cold beet soup was especially satisfying on a hot summer day!
The recipe I used was found online because I don’t actually have my nana & papa’s recipe. They haven’t made this soup in a few years since they are both 90 yrs old, so I keep forgetting to ask them for the recipe. The recipe I used seemed to have all the essential ingredients, so I thought I’d give it a try.
- 1lb beets (2-3 beets, depends on size)
- ½ english cucumber (or 2-3 baby cucumbers)
- 2-3 eggs
- Small bunch of green onions (like 4-5 stems, not more)
- Small bunch of fresh green dill
- 1 quart of original kefir or buttermilk
- About 1 quart of cold boiled water
- 3 tablespoons of original sour cream
- Salt to taste
This soup is relatively easy to make, just time consuming with boiling & peeling the beets. The kefir was the only ingredient that I specifically had to find & buy because everything else I often have on hand.
1. Prepare ingredients: boil beets skin on and cool them down till room temperature (this takes some time, you can boil them in advance, even a night before to speedup the process; (which is what I did) using canned beets is another alternative, but I never did it myself); I’ve also never thought to use canned beets either – it was always fresh beets! also boil eggs till hard, cool then down too; rinse greens and cucumber:
- Once boiled beets are cooled down, skin them: (this was always my favourite part of eating beets in general, was peeling off the skin and getting my hands all purple & stained!)
- Take big cooking pot and grate the boiled beet into it using big slots of grater: (this part was a little more difficult than I thought it’d be, the soft beet would only grate so far before it started falling apart)
- Peel and dice eggs:
And add them to the cooking pot:
- If cucumber has hard bitter skin – remove skin, also if seeds appear to be hard – remove them too. Then dice cucumber and add to the cooking pot:
- Clean green onion, chop it and add to the cooking pot:
- Add finely chopped fresh dill: (the key is to use LOTS of dill & it must be fresh vs dried for full flavour)
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream and season with salt:
- Mix everything:
- Add all buttermilk or kefir: (an alternative version is to puree it so it’s all blended together smoothly)
- Add about the same amount of water (or more, to taste) and mix everything. Cover cooking pot with a lid and put it to the fridge or cool place for about an hour to let flavors meld: (personally, I let it sit over night for optimal flavour melding! Like stew, it develops more flavour the longer it sits)
- Serve cold out of fridge as a soup course before main dish.
I was quite pleased by how my beet soup turned out, especially considering I’ve never actually made it before. The taste was similar to what I remember, the major flavours being beets & dill. The sour cream and kefir give it a creamy, smooth texture which contrasts well with the earthy & fresh herb flavour of the grated beet pieces & chopped dill.
I actually made my cold beet soup on the same day that my friend was coming over for the night. She likes both beets and dill and trusts my cooking skills 🙂 so she was happy to try some. She enjoyed it and could easily see how it would be very refreshing when it’s hot out.
I wouldn’t change anything from this recipe, since I’m happy with how it turned out. But if I make it again, it would be with my nana & papa’s recipe or my mom’s cousin, I remember liking her soup too when we had it at Christmas Eve one year. There is also a restaurant in Roncesvalles, TO called Cafe Polonez. Their Polish version of cold beet soup looks pretty similar to the Lithuanian one, so I’d be interested in trying that one out too. The recipe is part of a collection of recipes from different restaurants featured on the Food Network show, You Gotta Eat Here.
Until next time!