Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup

Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup

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.



Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup

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.

Ingredients
  • ~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)

Procedure
  1. 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).
  2. Peel the shallot and chop it roughly. Add the chopped shallot to a food processor. Whir until well minced.
  3. 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.
  4. Dice the other cucumber finely (¼ inch or smaller). Add the diced cucumber to the beets.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour the soup into an airtight container, then refrigerate it for at least an hour (overnight is better).
  7. 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.
Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup

Notes
  • 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.
Chilled Beet and Cucumber Soup

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

94 comments:

  1. I love the idea of adding cucumbers to this soup. I've never seen that before. And the color is stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pamela, isn't the color outrageous? And the cukes add a lot of this. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  2. I'm literally dying over this soup --- I need to try it TODAY! That color is just glorious...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue, this is really, really good -- you'll love it. And that color is amazing, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  3. What a gorgeous soup John, we must be on the same wave length because I have about 3 chilled soups queued up for future blog posts! We adore beets so this soup sounds perfect for us, I may have to alter our menu for the cottage for this weekend and sneak this in somewhere!
    I am unable to comment in Chrome on your blog, it simply discards my comment and I need to start fresh in Safari, it seems to be a Blogger issue, do you know why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eva, I have comment moderation turned on (to fight all the spam), so comments don't appear right away. I got both of the comments you made. Although sometimes Blogger can be buggy! Anyway, this is a great soup -- you'll enjoy. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  4. If you're saying this is one of the best things you've made in years then I know this MUST be tried soon! That color is just gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ashley, this is really, really good. :-) And the color is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  5. CRAZILY enough - I have never eaten beets before. EVER. I've heard they can either taste amazing or like DIRT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi GiGi, beets are good! But they can be rather sandy, so you do have to clean them well. Otherwise you're eating, well, dirt. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  6. That looks amazing!!! I love the beetroot and feta combo so mine would be covered in it!
    Thanks for sharing
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julie, feta sounds like a fun idea! Have to try that. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. The cucumbers are intriguing! I've made a beet hummus but never soup. Such a fun color and so appetizing. Putting this on the list of must make recipes :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tricia, the cukes add a lot of crunch of flavor -- really a nice addition. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  8. Such a vibrant colour... and so refreshing! Perfect for our scorching Aussie summers, John. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz, color is great, isn't it? So is the flavor! And your summers are brutal -- this will be perfect! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. I adore beets, so there's no doubt I'd be a huge fan of this vibrant soup! Perfect on a hot summer's eve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz, you'll like this. Promise. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  10. Beets are the best and this is a great way to enjoy them in warm weather. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Greg, beets are great, aren't they? We love 'em! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  11. Such a beautiful and refreshing summer soup! I am in love with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denise, this really is refreshing. And tasty. And pretty. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  12. What a beautiful soup! Your guests would probably be pulling out their cameras to get a picture before digging in. Great combination of ingredients, especially the cucumber and the shrub syrup. Very nice soup John!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi MJ, this is a good one -- we're really happy with it. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  13. WoW! What a gorgeous soup and the combination of beets and cucumbers is genius! Beets are so good for our bods....thanks for sharing :) Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pat, beets and cukes are wonderful together! And beets really are good for us, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. I have that color in a dress! However I would love to be eating this soup in that dress! Love the shrub syrup in this! What a way to do pink!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Abbe, this really is an unusual color for food, isn't it? You'll definitely have to make this and wear that dress! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  15. I'm a big fan of that dramatic beet. Love this soup. Thanks for sharing John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lea Ann, love beets! Such good flavor, don't you think? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  16. wow! what a gorgeous looking soup, I have never had cold beet soup before, looks like I have been missing out big time. Pinned for later, thanks John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheri, you definitely have been missing out! :-) You'll love this -- really good stuff. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  17. Woah, this is a wonderful electric color recipe! I love the way you complimented the beets and cucumbers together! Great for our cucumber harvest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pamela, you'll have to grow beets next year. :-) Isn't the color on this spectacular? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  18. What a beautiful color!!! I would make this soup just for it's color! But beets are healthy for you, so that is a plus too ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Krisit, we'd make this just for its color too! And the flavor is exceptional -- such a bonus! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  19. THis is so inspiring! I love the post:)

    irenethayer.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Irene, isn't this nice? So good! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  20. Such a beautiful dish! I have been on a huge beet kick lately after swearing I don't like them. I totally agree that some dishes are better than others. They can't all be the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, this really is a wonderful dish -- worth a try, since you're on a beet kick. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  21. Just wow! What a way to make beets the centerpiece of a meal! Simply stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deb, this is a real winner! Just wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  22. Wow!!! Vibrant, beautiful, and delicious. Nicely done John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pam, isn't this nice? Fun color, fun flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  23. Wow wow wow. So beautiful, and such spectacular ingredients!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mimi, isn't this nice? Such great flavor! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  24. Would you as readily use roasted beets as boiled? I like the intensification of flavor from the roasting but it may change e texture too much. Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Unknown, roasted beets have great flavor, don't they? But in this case I wouldn't roast them -- although boiled beets lose a bit of flavor, the flavor they're losing is going into the water that becomes the soup stock. It'd be interesting trying it both ways, though, to see which is better! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  25. What a lovely looking soup, almost too pretty to eat. Sure looks like an expensive dish! I love beets in my soups and cucumber also, but never have combined them in one dish, but I guess this is the time. Such a delicious bowl of yummy goodness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anu, it's a lovely soup. And when people see the color, they're amazed -- so different! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  26. I could stare at that soup all day -- the color is just mesmerizing. What a showstopper for a summer party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carolyn, isn't that color wonderful? Love it! Oh, and the soup tastes really good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  27. What a great looking soup! I love beets but I never had them in a chilled soup. It's time to change that. I still have some of your shrubs in my fridge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gerlinde, chilled beet soup is really good stuff! And it's wonderful with the addition of a little shrub syrup. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  28. This soup is beautiful, John! You know, many people pinch their noses at beets, but I LOVE them. Though I've yet to try beet soup of any kind. What a perfect summer lunch for me. (And you guys will never get a pink slip from me! Keep these wonderful recipes coming!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne, we really like beets too. Although we know plenty of people who can't stand them -- weird. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  29. Gorgeous! And notwithstanding all your 'pink' puns, I'd love to try this recipe with golden beets. I think it would be equally beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Beth, I'll bet golden beets would be good in this. And I'm sure our puns for that version would be as good as gold. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  30. Chilled soup is a fantastic idea for August. I've seen so many wonderful posts with lots of recipes to try. What a gorgeous color! I bet the flavor is incredible! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marcelle, the flavor is this is terrific! As is the color. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  31. That is a totally beautiful color. Beets are so healthy, too. And, chilled to boot....perfect for this hot weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debra, the color is wonderful, isn't it? And the flavor is wonderful as well! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  32. Beets, cucumbers and sour cream what an amazing flavor combo, looks so refreshing and what a beautiful color it is!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rahul, it's a wonderful flavor combo! Really, really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  33. Wow just look at the colour of that, not a fan of cold soups but I will try this even just once, looks interesting to me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, the color alone is reason enough to make this! Plus the flavor is wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  34. Love chilled soups, and this is such a winner! Simple, flavorful, beautiful, delish!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mary, it't really a great soup -- we love it! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  35. I am in LOVE with the color that is for sure :-D And I am sure it taste as amazingly. How much shrub syrup did you make. You are so creative to incoroparte it in so many recipes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Evelyne, we made 4 batches of shrub syrup altogether -- had to test both the cold and hot process, and of course try several different flavors. :-) And isn't this color great?! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  36. I haven't had chilled soup before.This looks like a good place to start. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peachy, this is a wonderful soup for your first chilled soup. Loads of flavor! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  37. Lovely chilled soup and that color!! OMG :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kiran, that color is so much fun, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  38. It makes a perfect course plus it looks so pretty. The colour is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marta, isn't that color wild? And such good flavor! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  39. Loving that vibrant pink! A great use of the harvest veggies and also with a little zip of balsamic vinegar to give it a little kick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bobbi, this is such a wonderful dish -- lovely combo of flavors. And that color! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  40. I've never made a chilled beet soup, but I'd love to give it a try. That color is fantastic! It's a showstopper for a dinner party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa, we love beets both in hot and chilled soups. Their flavor is so good! And their color in this recipe really is so much fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  41. Beet the heat - haha :-)! This soup looks terrific - love the color and the flavors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, it's a wonderful soup! Really excellent flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  42. Your soup has everything going for it…great taste and so pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen, doesn't this look great? And it tastes wonderful! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  43. This sure is a pretty soup! I love the colour beets impart even though it can be quite shocking in the bathroom :) I always forget too :)
    Gorgeous flavours and colours, and so refreshing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nazneen, we put in that reminder just for those who don't know. :-) And isn't this color wonderful?! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  44. What a surprise to see this, because chilled beet soup is something I always, always wanted to make! I'm super excited to see this. I love beets and use them often, but haven't figured out how to make the chilled soup yet. Very inspired and comfortable after reading your post and techniques! I think my daughter will love that color too (it's going to be a good surprise!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nami, who wouldn't love that color?! :D This really is good stuff -- definitely worth making. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  45. So healthy. And the color is insane. I would eat this just for the color. I have bought beets cooked, I need to figure out how to make them from scratch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nisha, isn't this color wonderful? Beets are SO good -- definitely an ingredient you want to play with. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  46. Well, if this isn't timely. My neighbors on either side each have cucumber plants and, as you can imagine, an abundance of the veg. I think they're in cahoots because each gives me 2 or 3 cukes on alternating days. I do love cucumbers but there are only so many that this carnivore can eat. Your soup will be a welcome change from tomato and cucumber salads. A most welcomed change. Thanks, John. I'm getting beets tomorrow. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John, "timey" is a good word! And it's hard to have too many cukes, but when you do, this soup is a great way to use them! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  47. I love the color of this soup. I enjoy eating beets, but never tried them in soup. I would love to try this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawn, beets make a terrific soup -- definitely worth trying. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete