Chilled Beetroot Soup | Baltic by Simon Bajada | Hardie Grant Books

Baltic by Simon Bajada Recipe Extract

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Chilled Beetroot Soup Recipe

29 Oct 2019 | Cherry Cai

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Baltic cuisine may not be one that everyone is familiar with, however, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are three countries experiencing new energy and interest in their food scene. Baltic by Simon Bajada celebrates this often overlooked cuisine with traditional dishes from each country and adapts them to create nearly 70 delicious recipes suitable for home kitchens all over the world. Featuring a combination of traditional and contemporary dishes from Baltic cuisine, the recipes are striking while also being achievable. The 'Chilled Beetroot Soup' is one such recipe. 

Chilled beetroot soup

LIT Šaltibarščiai

LAT Aukstā zupa

EST Külm peedisupp

This recipe, which was particularly popular in Soviet times, is currently experiencing a revival. Given its striking look and refreshing flavour, it’s easy to understand why – on a hot summer’s day it rivals the renowned gazpacho and simply can’t be beaten.

I find it interesting how this dish epitomises the flavour profiles of the region: the earthy yet natural sweetness of the beetroot paired with the sour milk, which is adored and so frequently used; the fresh, watery cucumber; the horseradish used as a substitute for chilli … it all adds up  to a dish that typifies the cuisine, though not in the heavy, wintry way you might expect. You can also really play with the quantities of these flavourings to suit your taste – personally I find that the horseradish  lends it another dimension and a generous amount of lemon juice makes it particularly delicious.


Serves 4–6 with leftovers

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 40 minutes

 photo of chilled beetroot soup from baltic

Ingredients

400 g (14 oz) whole beetroot (beets)

3 eggs

200 g (7 oz) cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and flesh coarsely grated or diced

1½ tablespoons chopped dill 2–3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) kefir or buttermilk

juice of ¼–½ lemon, to taste 200 ml (7 fl oz) cold water, plus extra if necessary

1 teaspoon freshly grated horseradish or ¼ teaspoon white pepper

dill sprigs, to serve

 

Method

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the beetroot, then cover and cook for 40 minutes, or until a paring knife passes through the centre easily. Drain and refresh the beetroot under cold running water or in a bowl of iced water for 1 minute, then peel off the skins and grate the beetroot on the coarse side of a box grater.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 7–8 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool under running water and leave in a bowl of cold water for at least 5 minutes. Peel, roughly chop and set aside.

Add all the ingredients, except the eggs and dill sprigs, to a large bowl. Mix together gently but well, diluting the soup further with a little extra cold water if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more lemon juice if necessary until the flavours are balanced (you will definitely need a bit more if using buttermilk as it is not quite so sour). Ladle into bowls and top with the egg and a little dill.

In Lithuania it is customary to serve this soup with potato. To do the same, boil 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby potatoes in salted water until a knife easily pierces them (around 10–15 minutes, depending on size). Drain, then pan-fry in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil until golden brown. Season with salt, thread onto skewers and serve on the side of the chilled soup.

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Recipe extracted from Baltic by Simon Bajada
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