Beautiful Cold Soup
August 5, 2014
Now that we’re in cold soup season, everyone’s throwing gazpacho ideas around. In the mood for something different, I began thinking about the borscht my Russian grandfather was addicted to. He liked it hot, but wouldn’t it be great – and gorgeous – served cold?
This is everything you want in a cold soup: slightly sweet and lightly sour, it has a sturdy simplicity. There are so few ingredients that the flavor of the beets comes singing through. It feels great in your mouth, and when you top this beautiful soup with soft chunks of lightly boiled eggs and crisp cubes of cucumber, you get a whole new range of textures. I can’t think of a more appealing summer lunch.
Cold Borscht for Six
4 medium-sized beets, peeled and quartered
1 or 2 medium waxy potatoes, roughly diced
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2-3 hardboiled eggs
Bring ten cups of water to a boil.
Peel and quarter 4 fresh beets (wear rubber gloves if you don’t want your hands to glow for the rest of the day), and add them to the pot. When the water comes back to a boil, turn down the flame and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce a beet’s surface.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the beets from the pot. Wearing your rubber gloves, shred them on the large holes of a grater and put them back into the pot along with the diced potatoes. Cook for another 12 minutes over medium low heat, until the potatoes are just lightly toothsome.
Add the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to cool, then put into the refrigerator for several hours to allow the flavors to mingle and get to know each other.
Serve garnished with cucumber, freshly chopped dill, pieces of hardboiled egg and dollops of sour cream.
If you stir the sour cream completely in, you get this vivid sunset of a soup.
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During the summer when I was growing up, I always ate cold borscht with chopped scallions, cucumber and dill, but without potatoes. Another cold Russian soup that my mother always served in the summer was schav, which she made with sorrel or spinach, tart but not sweet-sour, like beet borscht.