cold borscht

Unless you are already a lover of borscht, you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that this soup — despite all rumors to the contrary — is straight-up delicious.

Well, okay, I can’t speak for all varieties of borscht, and apparently there are many — hot and cold, maroon and magenta, with cabbage and without, from a jar and from a can, accidentally-vegan and very-not-vegan, and even with beets and without. But I am a lover of beets, and this simple, cold version is almost entirely comprised of those deep red gems. No, it doesn’t taste earthy; peeling fresh beets before cooking them rids them of any bitterness, and boiling them until they’re soft brings out their lovely, natural sweetness. Stock and a single onion fill out this soup’s flavor, kicking it a few steps above beet juice and into the category of “summer meal staples.”

One bit of advice, though: this is a particularly ill-advised dish to eat at work, especially when you’re the kind of person who eats on your lap rather than at a table like an adult, and mysteriously obtains a new grease stain on your work clothes during your morning bicycle commute every few days without fail. (Yep, that would be me!) I probably shouldn’t be allowed within a thousand feet of cooked beets, much less a highly-splashable fuschia dish like this one. But just last week I ate this soup on my lunch break three days in a row and somehow managed to return to work without a single telling mark. As you can see, I was also inordinately proud of myself. It was like cheating death!

…It’s the small things, really.

4.7 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Jewish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 5 c water
  • 6-8 large beets (around 3" in size), halved
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered, but with the root end intact
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Boil potatoes until tender; drain liquid and refrigerate until well chilled.
  2. In a large pot with a heavy bottom, bring water and beets to a boil.
  3. Once water is boiling, reduce heat and simmer beets just until tender.
  4. Turn off heat and remove beets from pot, retaining the liquid.
  5. In a food processor, shred beets.
  6. Return shredded beets to pot.
  7. Add stock and onion to pot and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 40 minutes, or until onion is tender.
  9. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Remove onion and adjust salt, sugar and lemon juice to taste.
  11. Refrigerate overnight.
  12. Serve chilled, over potatoes.
  13. Top with vegan sour cream if desired.