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Lithuanian Cold Borscht - Šaltibarščiai (yes, it's THAT pink!)

It's that time of year ... when it's too HOT in the evenings to be stuck in a hot kitchen. Thanks to amazingly fresh and incredibly tasty Bull's Blood beets, dill, and English cucumbers from one of our local farm CSA share, there will be Lithuanian Cold Borscht, called Šaltibarščiai (pronounced SHAL*TI*BAR*SHAY) served at our table this week.

Not a borscht fan? Neither me, but this Lithuanian cold summer soup is fantastically vibrant in color, and soothingly filling on a hot summer evening with a delicious balance of sweet roasted beets and cucumbers, fresh dill, and a little creamy tang from the kefir. Add boiled eggs and potatoes for self service, and dinner is served.

Special note - use kefir, buttermilk or yogurt as may be available or preferred ... whatever is easy. Highly recommend roasting the beets to get the most flavor and color, but even boiled or jarred pickled beets can work in a pinch. ENJOY!!

Lithuanian Cold Borscht - Šaltibarščiai

Total time: 20 min, plus chilling time for the soup | serves 4-6

Note: Adapted from TasteAtlas; this is the official recipe of the Vilnius Tourist Information Board.

  • 4 cups kefir (buttermilk may be substituted)

  • 1 cup beets, roasted (boiled or marinated beets may be substituted)

  • 3 fresh large cucumbers (preferably English)

  • 6 green onions or scallions, chopped fine

  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill (more for garnish)

  • 4 eggs, hardboiled

  • 10-12 new potatoes, boiled (red or yellow)

  • salt, to taste

  • Garnish

  • dill, chopped (for garnish)

  • scallion greens or chives, chopped (for garnish)

  • sour cream

  • Finely chop or grate the vegetables: cucumbers, beets, scallions and dill. Mix them all in a large bowl.

  • Pour the kefir over the vegetables, flavor with salt according to taste, mix and chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes (the longer the mixed vegetables stand, the tastier the soup will be).

  • While soup is chilling, boil potatoes in salted water until a fork easily pierces the skin (15-20 minutes depending on the size).

  • Ladle the soup into bowls, cut the boiled egg in pieces (chopped as fine as preferred) and add to the bowls along with chopped dill and scallion greens (or chives).

  • The cold soup is served accompanied by the warm boiled potatoes and sour cream.

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