Cool Soups: Cold Beet Soup (1), Low-Cal Cold Beet Soup, Cold Beet Soup (2), Chilled Cucumber Pill Soup, Cold Apple Soup

with Dana Siliūnas


Although cold soups are not as popular here in America as they are in Europe, a cold soup will cool you off and give you that extra lift and energy during the warm summer days. Europeans have been enjoying cold soups for centuries. The Spanish gospocho is known throughout the world.

Borscht (baršciai), the hot beet soup, is usually associated with Russian cuisine. But it is believed that cold beet soup, or šaltibaršciai, is a uniquely Lithuanian dish. Recipes for šaltibaršciai appear in old Lithuanian cookbooks, although its ingredients and preparation varies somewhat from region to region. The traditional recipe called for fresh beets and a soup base made by fermenting the boiled and grated beets. Outside of Lithuania we have adapted the recipe to the taste and ease of preparation that we are accustomed to by using canned beets. But regardless of how you prepare it, šaltibaršciai is always served with hot boiled potatoes flavored with dill or parsley.

The first recipe, submitted by reader Kathy Hazlewood of Overland Park, Kansas, is one which comes closest to the original Lithuanian recipe. The others are popular American variations.

To round up this collection of cold soup recipes, we have included a couple of others — including a sweet one — which we hope you will like.

Šaltibaršciai (1)

4 to 6 medium beets with stems and leaves
1 chopped onion
2 tsp. vinegar
1 cup sour cream
1 bay leaf
1 qt. water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook whole beets until tender. Peel and grate coarsely or cut into julienne strips. To one quart of water, add chopped onion, beet greens and stems, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender. Add grated or cut beets. Simmer about 15 min. Add vinegar for tartness. Remove soup from heat. Ladle off about a cupful of the soup, allow to cool slightly, then gradually stir in 1 cup sour cream. Pour this mixture into soup. Cream will curdle if soup is too hot. Soup can be served as a hot soup, or a cold soup.

Šaltibaršciai (2)

1 cube beef broth
1 cup boiling water
2 15-oz. cans whole beets
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 small cucumbers
1 qt. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. chopped green onions
1 Tbsp. chopped dill
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. sour cream, if desired

Dissolve cube of beef broth in boiling water; mix and let cool. Grate beets. Chop eggs and cucumbers. Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate before serving.

Liesi šaltibaršciai

2 15-oz. cans whole beets coarsely grated
4 hard-boiled egg whites chopped
1 cucumber chopped
1 qt. low-fat buttermilk
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup green onions and fresh dill finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate before serving.

Šalta agurku sriuba

4 cucumbers peeled with seeds removed
1 qt. buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp. fresh dill chopped
2 Tbsp. garlic salt
2 Tbsp. pickled ginger chopped
1/2 white onion

Put cucumbers, onion and sour cream in a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Then add buttermilk and seasonings. Chill the soup for about an hour, then serve.

Šalta obuoliu sriuba

5 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 cup fruit juice
6 cups water
Cinnamon, orange peel

Cut up apples, put in a pot, add spices, cover with 3 cups water and cook. When apples are cooked, force through strainer, add fruit juice, sugar, and heat but do not boil. Chill.

Dumplings (Leistiniai)
2 apples
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
Bread crumbs

Peel and grate apples. Add sugar, eggs and bread crumbs to make a thick dough. Beat well. Spoon the dough, using a teaspoon, into boiling water. When the dumplings rise to the surface, remove from heat, cool and add to soup. Chill before serving.