This week was very hot in Bratislava so the idea to spend a weekend in a country house in Nová Baňa sounded as a good idea. It was hot even there so my choice for the Saturday dinner was obvious: I cooked a cold beetroot soup.
If you ask me what is the taste of south Ukrainian summer, I will place this soup (it has very cute name in the region where I grew up “cholodnichok”) right after famous Mikado tomatoes. It’s also interesting because you can find all 3 staples of Ukrainian cuisine in this recipe: beet, dill and sour cream. Someone call this soup “cold borsht”. Every year I waited for the beginning of summer and my mom can finally cook it. It’s a super dish for hot summer days when you don’t want to eat too much but you also don’t want to feel hunger in an hour after you had lunch.
Here is the recipe.
(for 5-6 portions)
2 middle sized beets (young beetroots are much more preferable as they are sweeter and have richer taste, but it was surprisingly difficult to find any kind of beetroots in Nová Baňa, I caught them only in the 3rd shop and they were from last year harvest.)
2 middle sized potatoes
1 middle sized fresh and crusty cucumber
1 chicken breast (you can substitute it with low fat pork or beef)
greens (green onions and dill)
salt, sugar, pepper, mustard.
#foodandculture reflections: there are a lot of ingredients in this soup, aren’t there? It differs from many Slovak cuisine “mono ingredient” soups, for example, lentil, leek, potato, cauliflower, etc. To make it more adapted to Slovak eating habits, I asked myself what ingredients make essence of this soup and what can be added for special occasions. First, you can make this soup vegetarian and serve it without meat. Then, you can leave potatoes aside, together with radishes or cucumbers. “Must haves” are beets, eggs, something crunchy, greens and cultured milk product.
- Boil in different pots: peeled beets (cut into quarters), peeled potatoes, meat and eggs (eggs should be hard boiled). Squeeze half of a lemon to water where you boil beetroot.
- When beetroots are ready (it took around 30 min in my case) cool deep red stock, add a pinch of salt and then taste it, the stock should have sour sweet taste. If you use young beetroots, the stock is usually sweet without added sugar, in my case, it was not sweet enough so I added 1 tablespoon of sugar. And it was not sour enough, so I used juice from the remaining half and 1 more lemon.
- Cool all boiled ingredients and then shred beets, dice eggs, meat, potatoes, radishes and peeled cucumbers.
- Make mustard deep: mix 2 tablespoons of sweet mustard with cut greens.
- Heap all ingredients on the plate, add cold stock, then add a table spoon of deep and a tablespoon of sour cream. Enjoy absolutely beautiful colour that this soup has.
A few remarks.
Like all beetroot soups, this cold soup tastes better when the stock is chilled, so if you are going to cook it for lunch, stock should be cooked already in the morning.
Coldness is important. Some restaurants serve it with ice cubes or even on ice plates 🙂