What do you call Cold Beet Soup?
There are a few varieties of cold beet soups in Russia. One of my favourites is this recipe is called Svekolnik - Cold Borscht (Свекольник) is a Russian summer favorite soup. It's a variation of the much loved Red Borscht soup, but made without cabbage, usually vegan and served cold. Sometimes people garnish with a hard boiled egg, but vegans obviously avoid that! On a hot summer's day, you don't want to eat hot soup, and this vitamin packed soup fills you and cools you at the same time.
Cold Borscht Soup (Свекольник) is like Italian Gazpacho soup, the most commonly recognized cold soup outside of Europe. Another popular cold soup in Russia is called Holodnik, a creamy cold soup made with beets and Kefir. There are other cold soups like Okroshka which is also a popular soup in Russian and across Eastern Europe. They are all made with lots of vegetables and incredibly healthy to eat. You'll be hard pressed to find these delicious recipes outside of Russia.
Svekolnik in Moscow
My favorite memory of eating this Svekolnik Cold Beet Soup was at Mu-Mu Cafe (МУ-МУ) on Arbat Street in Moscow. Mu-Mu is a cafe/diner chain across Moscow with great food and great prices, plus you get a cow Caramel candy when you pay. Those caramels remind me of my childhood, eating these delicious caramels, and the soup of course! If you're ever in Moscow, you're sure to see this cow cafe everywhere! As tasty as it was, of course, my mom's Cold Beet Soup (Svekolnik) recipe tasted better! With this recipe you won't need to travel to Moscow, save your money and make it at home instead!
How to make Cold Borscht
There are many variations of this soup, some people add carrots, potatoes, add kefir, radishes or even tomatoes. The main thing is getting the base of the soup right, the beet soup base. It's just the water from cooking the beets and potatoes. A vegan broth that you don't discard from the cooking process. It sounds a bit fancier if I call if a vegan broth vs purple water to discard. The benefit is you get to keep all the vitamins and goodness from the beets, which are incredibly healthy! If slicing the vegetables into thin long straws isn't your thing, feel free to diced them, julienne or even grate them.
All Russian soups need a bit of sourness to them. When making Borscht, we always add a bit of vinegar to balance out the sweetness of the beets. If this Cold Beet Soup isn't sour enough, as in the balance of flavors isn't right, add a splash of dill pickle juice. We don't think twice about getting the Thai balance of sweet and sour correct, this is also correct in Russian Soups and most cuisines.
Other Slavic Cold Soup Recipes
Cold summer soups are perfect on a hot summer's day. This classic Russian Cold Beet Soup (Свекольник) is simply a cold vegan borscht recipe, much loved and full of vitamins. In Russia and the Slavic world, it's all about the beets. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Cold Borscht - Svekolnik (Свекольник)
- 4 medium beets with leaves if available
- 2 potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 green onion sliced
- 2 pickling cucumbers fresh not pickled
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- sour cream omit for vegan
- 4 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 hard boiled eggs optional, omit for vegan
- Peel the beets, chop into thin long straws or julienne them. Finely chop the beet leaves and set aside. Peel and chop (julienne) the potatoes. Place beets and potatoes in a saucepan with around 1.5 litres of water (6 cups), minced garlic and vinegar. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the beets and potatoes are tender. Add the beet leaves, sugar and salt and continue cook for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Slice the cucumbers into thing long straws, about the same length and size as the beets. Set aside.
- Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut in half. Set aside to be used as garnish for each bowl when serving.
- Add sliced green onion, sliced cucumbers, chopped dill to the cold Svekolnik soup. Taste and add extra sugar or salt if necesary.
- Allow Svekolnik Soup to be chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. Soup best when served cold. Serve with hard boiled egg half, sour cream and Russian rye bread.