29 Oct 2019 | Cherry Cai
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.
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
400 g (14 oz) whole beetroot (beets)
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
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.
Recipe extracted from Baltic by Simon Bajada
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