Saturday, July 16, 2011

You Can't 'Beet' Lithuanian Summer Borscht



The other day I caught an episode of Andrew Zimmern's Bizzare Foods. He was in St. Petersburg, chowing down on what he said was the most amazing borscht he had ever eaten. The soup had cabbage, beets, juniper berries and beef.  It got me thinking about borscht, a peasant beet soup that is incredibly popular in Eastern and Central Europe and probably originated in the Ukraine. I've long been a big beet fan (see this post and this recipe from Kitchen Confidante) and since we got beets and cucumbers in our last CSA pick-up, I thought the time was right for borscht.  Not only is borscht delicious, but beets are really, really good for you too. 
There are many kinds of borscht.  There's cold borscht, hot borscht, Ukranian Borscht, Lithuanian Borscht, Jewish Borscht, Russian Borscht, Romanian Beet Soup, Polish White Borscht-- I think you get the picture.  Along with all these styles of soup comes plenty of debate on which is best: hot vs. cold, potatoes vs. egg and buttermilk vs. chicken stock.  Whatever side of the debate you come down on, you can always enjoy a bowl of this wonderful Lithuanian Borscht.
This soup is perfect for an afternoon picnic in Coney Island or Brighton Beach.  I love the boardwalks in the summertime. 
Enjoy this soup and serve it with an accompaniment of boiled potato and dill. It's delish. 
For more on borscht click onto this article from The Guardian.

Lithuanian (Cold) Summer Borscht, Saltibarščiai (Adapted from a Ukranian Orphans Website that lists the World's Best Borscht)
Ingredients:
5 large beets
1 larger size cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill depending on taste
About 1/4 cup chopped green onions/scallions (I think you could easily do 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 quart of cold buttermilk (*I used fat-free and it was delicious)
salt and pepper to taste (I think I used 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 3/4 teaspoon salt)

1-2 hard boiled egg, chopped
Dollop of sour cream
(I added a splash of white wine vinegar too)
Directions:
Boil beets in a large pot of boiling water for 30-45 minutes, until tender.  When they are cool, lightly scrub away the skins.  *Reserve 2 cups of beet water.
Grate beets and put them in a large bowl with chopped cucumbers, chopped dill, green onions and reserved cooking water.  Gently blend.
Whisk together lemon juice and buttermilk and slowly pour over the beet mixture until the consistency satisfies you. Go slowly; you might not want to use the entire quart.
Add salt and pepper to taste.  Optional: add a splash of white wine vinegar.  Gently blend in the chopped egg.
Caution on the reserved beet water – the beets have to be ultra clean before boiling  otherwise there will be grit in the soup (yuck!).
Refrigerate until well chilled.

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1 comment:

  1. without a doubt the best borscht i've ever had in my life! (and this includes my trips to poland). it's so beautifully done; looks-wise AND taste-wise. i wish i could have more of it (hint, hint...)
    maybe i'll (gasp!) make it for myself???

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