Grandma’s Chilled Soups

Tatiana’s Pilates in Carpinteria, CA.
Lotus Newsletter, Jul 2010, Issue # 17

Grandma’s Borscht
You can enjoy your borscht either hot or cold, vegetarian or meat/ bone broth based.  I usually pick the darkest red, biggest, heaviest bunch on the table which turns into the most colorful soup. Fuchsia juice turns everything bright. After all the chopping, sautéing, simmering and stirring hands, utensils, chop boards- everything turns ruby. The best news about this recipe is that it’s just as good hot as it is cold, vegetarian or not.

Grandma’s Chilled Beet Soup
Kholodnik- chilled or cold beet soup is a cold variety of borscht- beetroot soup traditional to some Northern European and Slavic countries. You can have it both ways- hot or chilled, which is just perfect now. So in different countries, it is called:
• Latvian: Aukstā zupa
• Lithuanian: Šaltibarščiai
• Polish: Chłodnik or Chłodnik litewski
• Belarusian: Chaładnik / Хaлaднiк “khaladnik”
• Russian: Свекольник “svekol’nik”
• Ukrainian: Холодник “kholodnyk”
– From Wikipedia

On Thursday, the farmer’s market was awash with color. Peaches, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, eggplants, plums, beets, etc. My bags weighed a ton with local produce. Fresh garlic was abundant. The cloves very crisp, fragrant, and so juicy, leaving my fingers sticky from mincing- I love adding garlic to my beet soup.

But best of all were the beets. Deep red, golden and marbled- you pick. So the decision is made- time for kholodnik. It’s Fiesta time in Santa Barbara area, and the weather is nice and warm- just perfect for a cold soup in the afternoon. Serve chilled (or hot in winter) with a swirl of kefir or sour cream.

I grew up eating it, but my babushka’s (grandmother’s) borscht and its chilled version, kholodnik, were the best. In summer, I’d use a vegetarian version for kholodnik. Also, I make my own kefir (a fermented milk drink- check my other post), so I incorporate it into most of my cooking. In winter, though, I’d use pork ribs, bone-broth or that great local pasture-fed pork bacon. This is something the fat abstaining people fear too much. Too bad because it’s so good for you!

Grandma’s Beet Borscht Recipe

For hot borscht, simmer a few pork bacon strips or ribs in a dutch oven. Remove meat and add water and let it boil. You can also use organic bone broth.
To your boiling water (cold soup) or broth (hot soup) add:
– 3-4 grated carrots
– 2-3 cubed potatoes
– 3-4 big beets: grated, or julienned
– Sorrel or Sauerkraut if you prefer (especially for your hot soup, in winter.)
Cook until tender. I prefer to start with cubed potatoes and young beets being chopped and boiled together with their leafy tops or “botva”, thus giving the soup another name- botvinya, which is one of the most typical of traditional cold Belarusian soups.

In a separate pan sauté 2 chopped onions, some celery stalks, a couple of laurel leaves and peppercorns, a couple cloves of garlic (optional) and one chopped sweet bell pepper in butter or lard, or in coconut oil for the cold (vegetarian) soup version until soft. Multicolored veggies, healthy oils and ground black pepper will help increase your body’s absorption of turmeric. Add some Celtic sea salt and simmer.

Add some sorrel (tangy spinach like greens) to taste. If you don’t have sorrel, you can use some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. The Russian way to add some acidity is adding a couple spoonfuls of Sauerkraut that is usually available in abundance, especially in winter. To your hot soup, add the bacon or ribs that were saved. My new fave to turbocharge this great family recipe has been adding a tablespoon (or more) of turmeric and collagen peptides at the very end. After cooling down the chilled version of the soup, I usually mix it with kefir ( you can also use sour cream.) Garnish with fresh dill, parsley, green onions or chives.

Also, add some cubed fresh cucumber or radishes, ½ hardboiled egg, some chopped sweet onion to your chilled soup for some extra crunch. The soup has a rich pink color from beets and dairy ingredients with colorful garnishes on top. Enjoy your soup with a slice of toasted home-made sourdough rye bread rubbed with a clove of garlic. You can also use some mustard or horseradish as spices. Bon appétit!

That’s a simpler version of cold beet soup. There is another option of kholodnik made out of beet kvass (or fermented beets) which essentially a drink valued for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. You start preparation days beforehand- it takes 3-7 days to have beets fermented. But you can store beet kvass in the fridge and use it anytime for kholodnik which you don’t have to cook- just add your preferred garnishes- and voila!- you have it ready in minutes. You also don’t need to add sorrel for tangy fresh taste since the beet kvass is already tangy and refreshing. See the beet kvass recipe here.

img_6530_2Grandma’s Green Soup
It’s a very simple recipe which can be made very fast. You can enjoy this tangy green soup just like red (beat soup or borscht) also either hot or cold, vegetarian or meat/ bone broth based.

Grandma’s Chilled Green Soup
For many in Eastern Europe and in Kholodnik means chilled or cold green soup made out of sorrel. For this cold soup, simmer a few pork bacon strips or ribs in a dutch oven. Remove meat and add water and let it boil. You can also use organic bone broth.
To your boiling water (for cold/ vegetarian soup) or meat or bone broth (for hot soup) add:
– 2-3 cubed potatoes
– Sorrel (especially for your hot soup, in winter.)
Cook until tender. I prefer to start with potatoes. After about 20 minutes or when potatoes are almost cooked, add some sorrel (tangy spinach like greens) and simmer, and then add some Celtic sea salt to taste. To your hot soup, add the bacon or ribs that were saved. My new fave to turbocharge this summer family favorite lately has been adding some collagen peptides at the very end, which you can do adding it into individual bowls even if you are having your soup cold- collagen will dissolve just fine. And those who prefer the vegetarian version can have it their way. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley, green onions or chives. Enjoy!

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