This cold Russian borscht recipe makes a gorgeous soup that's the perfect antidote for steamy Texas summers. Served chilled, the tangy soup is refreshing-- and with its vibrant purple color accented with a cool white dollop of sour cream, this smooth borsch is downright pretty. So beautiful, in fact, that your family and friends will never suspect how easy it is to make. Since beets and beetroot juice are a superfood and this recipe uses a minimum of fat, it's not just tasty; cold Russian borscht is healthy, too.
Borscht, or borsch, is a beet soup common throughout Eastern Europe. Thought to have originated in the Ukraine, borscht is generally made with beef and served hot, in the Summer borscht is served cold and without the meat, although beef broth is usually used. I use vegetable broth because I like its lighter flavor, especially in the heat of the Dallas Summer. Think of borscht as Soviet soup: versions of this cold Russian borscht are found all over the former countries of the USSR, including Poland, where it is called Ch?odnik. Cold Lithuanian borscht swirls the sour cream (smetana) right in, for a chilled beet soup that is Barbie pink.
Once you add this Cold Russian Borscht recipe to your repertoire, you will find yourself making it . This pretty purple soup is a natural for Spring and Summer entertaining-- think baby showers or bridesmaid luncheons in the garden, or serve it in over-sized shot glasses for cocktail parties on the deck or around the pool. Cold Russian borscht is also makes a terrific simple supper on sultry Summer evenings. A cold boiled potato is a traditional side dish for cold Russian beet soup, but I like to serve this Summer Borscht recipe soup with a refreshing garden salad and crusty rustic bread on the side.
Beautiful local beets are readily available at Dallas area farmers markets and grocery stores throughout the Metroplex. Small Spring beets are available in a rainbow of colors and make a fantastic addition to crisp summer salads. Choose medium sized beetroots for this cold Russian borscht recipe. Don't throw the tops away: tender leaves are tasty in salads, and larger beet greens can be sauteed and served as you would any other green.
Summer Borscht Recipe (Cold Russian borscht)
- 1 large bunch beets (beetroot) (shoot for medium sized-- they're easier to peel)
- 1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
- 1 pint (2 cups) water
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (can substititute lemon juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (for garnish)
- Fresh dill, chopped (for garnish)
- Cucumber, diced (for garnish, optional)
- Hard-boiled egg, chopped (for garnish, optional)
Remove greens from beets, leaving about one inch of stem on the beetroot to prevent bleeding. Reserve greens for another use. Scrub and boil beets until cooked through and easily pierced with a fork-- about 45 minutes, depending on the size and age of the beets. Do not salt the water (or add any salt to the beets until the soup is done) because it will make the beets turn grayish and lose their appealing color.
Reserve 2 cups of water for the the soup. Let beets cool just long enough so that you can handle them and peel under running water; the skins should slip right off the beets. Roughly chop beets and add to the soup pot if you plan to blend your borscht smooth. (I usually just slice them straight into the pot.) If you prefer a chunkier borscht, grate cooked beets using the large holes of a box grater-- a food processor will turn your beautiful beets into mush and tends to spatter purple beet juice where you don't want it.
Combine beets, reserved cooking water, minced onion, and vegetable stock in a suitable soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add vinegar and simmer about 15 minutes. Blend before adding salt and pepper to taste.
Chill well before serving. Summer borscht soup is served cold, topped with a spoon of Russian sour cream, Greek yogurt or regular sour cream, a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill and optional garnishes.
Buy it local! Where to buy ingredients for cold Russian Borscht.
Fresh locally grown beets are readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets throughout the Dallas Metroplex, including the Dallas Farmers Market. Look for Russian style sour cream at Euro Deli.
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