Beet the heat with this refreshing starter
Some dishes are better than others. But this soup is one of the best things we’ve made in years.
Who knew that the humble beet could be so dramatic?
This chilled soup makes a perfect first course for a summer dinner party. Its delicious color (and flavor!) will have your guests demanding seconds.
So make extra.
Recipe: Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup
This recipe was inspired by one we found in Bert Greene’s Greene on Greens.
Back at the beginning of summer, we made Berry Shrub Syrup. We used some of it in this soup. If you don’t have shrub syrup on hand, you can substitute balsamic vinegar. Or just skip it altogether. We like the hint of acidity that shrub syrup gives, but it’s not essential.
Prep time for this soup is about 15 minutes. Then the beets need to cook for about 45 minutes, and they require extra time to cool down after cooking. You also need to refrigerate the soup for at least an hour before serving (overnight is better). So you may want to make this soup a day ahead.
This recipe yields about 6 cups (4 to 6 servings). Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~1 pound beets (usually 1 bunch)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 shallot
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Shrub Syrup or balsamic vinegar (to taste; optional)
- salt to taste (about ¾ teaspoon kosher salt for us)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 8 grinds for us)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
- garnish of dill sprigs and/or a dollop of sour cream (optional)
- Wash the beets. Cut off the stems and root ends. Peel the beets, then dice them roughly. Place the beets in a large saucepan with 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the beets are quite tender (35 to 45 minutes). When done, remove from the heat and cool the beets (in the saucepan) to room temperature. When cool, whir the beets with an immersion blender until you achieve the consistency you prefer (we like ours a bit chunky; see Notes if you prefer to use a stand blender or food processor).
- Peel the shallot and chop it roughly. Add the chopped shallot to a food processor. Whir until well minced.
- Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut one of the cucumbers into chunks and add them to the food processor containing the shallot. Whir until the cucumber is pureed. Scoop the contents of the food processor into the saucepan containing the beets.
- Dice the other cucumber finely (¼ inch or smaller). Add the diced cucumber to the beets.
- Add about ¾ of the sour cream to the beets (reserve the rest for garnish). Using a whisk, beat the sour cream into the mixture. Add the berry shrub or balsamic vinegar (if using). Stir, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the soup into an airtight container, then refrigerate it for at least an hour (overnight is better).
- When ready to serve the soup, mince the dill finely and stir it into the soup (you may want to reserve some dill sprigs for garnish). Taste the soup again and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and/or a sprig or two of dill, if desired.
- Beets “bleed” when you cut them, so they can stain. We generally use disposable gloves and a plastic cutting board when working with them. You may still get a bit of staining, but household cleaner that contains bleach will get rid of that immediately.
- Beets usually are sold with their greens. If the beets are young, you can use the greens raw in a salad. Otherwise, cook them as you would spinach or other greens.
- The color in beets doesn’t break down in your digestive system. So it can tinge your urine and stool. Just so you know.
- We use an immersion blender to break up the beets for this soup (Step 1). If you prefer to use a food processor or stand blender, here’s how: Add the cooled beets to the machine with enough of the cooking liquid to just cover the beets. Pulse until the beets achieve the consistency you prefer.
- We like to use full-fat sour cream in this dish, but low-fat works too. We haven’t tried this soup with yogurt, but think that would taste fine too.
- Shrub syrup is a bit less vinegary than balsamic vinegar, so you may find yourself using more shrub syrup (or less balsamic vinegar).
- We use kosher salt, which is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its large crystals don’t pack as densely). If using regular table salt, use about half as much as we suggest.
- But always adjust salt and black pepper (or any herb or spice) to your own taste.
- We like to add dill to the soup right before serving so that the dill’s fresh flavor and fragrance don’t dissipate. If you don’t have fresh dill available, we do not suggest using dried (the flavor just isn’t as good). Instead, try some fresh mint, or perhaps chives.
La Vie en Rose
“Wowzer, what flavor,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And the color grabs attention.”
“Yes, it’s sort of deep pinkish,” I agreed. “Or magenta. Really pretty.”
“Well, I’m tickled pink,” said Mrs K R.
“And beets are good for you,” I said. “This will put us in the pink of health.”
“Better stop this nonsense,” said Mrs K R. “Before our readers give us a pink slip.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Berry Shrub and Shrub Syrup
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Summer Corn, Zucchini, and Bean Soup
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill
Quick & Easy Gazpacho
Hungarian-Style Cold Cherry Soup
Strawberry-Chipotle Soup with Mint
Summer Pea Soup with Mint
Or check out the index for more