Svekolnik – Russian Cold Beet Soup

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This Svekolnik – Russian Cold Beet Soup is a refreshing, light, yet filling soup recipe that would be so awesome on a sweltering day!

Hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well. What’s that? Cannot hear you. Are you complaining about the unbearably hot situation outside? I got you now! Same here. But don’t you worry folks – I got you covered. This Svekolnik – Russian Cold Beet Soup is what you all need!

I have not shared with you any Russian recipes for a little while, so I am glad to bring you this amazingly refreshing recipe. In fact, there’s no one and only authentic recipe for this soup due to its a few variations, and it’s pointless to argue on what’s the more authentic recipe, right? That’s why I am sharing the way I like this recipe. The variations of this soup can also be found in other countries including Ukraine and Poland (“Holodnik”).

What’s the “Svekolnik”? This name comes from the Russian word “свекла” (“svekla”) meaning “beetroot”. What a twist! You couldn’t anticipate this, ha! Most likely, you are more familiar with another famous beetroot soup Ukranian “Borscht”, and I have noticed that many American and European culinary resources refer to “Svekolnik” as a “Summer or Cold Borscht”. I understand the reason behind this simplification; however, they are very different recipes. I should make Ukrainian borscht somehow in winter too, by the way.

Anyway, as I said there are different ways (Commonly, they differ in ingredients) to make Svekolnik. It’s hard to cover everything, so I will talk about some basics.

  • Needless to say, beetroot is the star component. Some recipes suggest to cook (F.e. bake) it separately then add water. I don’t think this makes a lot of sense as the water in which we cook beets is nicely infused and technically works as the broth, so why waste it? You can also pure the beetroot base (and then add the remaining ingredients) or leave it chunky.
  • Crunchy and refreshing cucumbers and (or) radishes are mandatory. Many people don’t add radishes, but their bold flavour adds something special, in my opinion. Potatoes are optional as they don’t contribute much into the flavour profile, but they’re filling;
  • As I said, there’s no broth in this recipe (Unless “beet broth” is a thing). There are other variations on how to improve the flavour including adding yogurt or kefir, but that’s a different kind of soup (Which we will probably talk another day.) Having said that, it’s so crucial to use some seasonings and ingredients that make the difference. Traditionally, a lot of dill and chives (green onions) are added into this soup. Acidity is essential too, it balances and enriches sweet beetroot flavour and also preserves the vibrant red colour. Some people add vinegar too, but I love lemons. And don’t forget salt and pepper – without them, the soup will turn bland;
  • Some recipes are vegetarian (Which is fine, too), but I love to add cooked lean ham and hard-boiled eggs (Eggs are one of the common ingredients for most recipes, though.). You can chop or cut them in half.
  • The cooking process is relatively simple. The longest part is cooking the beets. Once they’re cooked, you will need to add the remaining ingredients and season well (You might need to adjust the seasoning a few times!) and chill it well, for at least 4 hours. In fact, the soup will only become better for the next few days. Of course, if you are going to make this recipe the first time ever, you won’t make it in large quantities. But I always make a LARGE (I mean that) pot and enjoy it for the next 4 or 5 days (Sometimes twice a day!);
  • The proportions are not written on the stone, and can easily be adjusted to your preferences. I love adding more of beets then most recipes recommend. I also love a thicker version by adding more vegetables, but you might like a thinner variation. The good thing is that this soup is very forgiving. Turned too thin? Just add more chopped veggies and ham. Too thick? Just add some boiled water! Easy-peasy. There’s one trick. After 2-3 days of enjoying it, there might not be enough of the “broth” in the pot (while still lots of veggies), so I just thin it up by adding 1-2 cups of water, and in a couple of hours, it is super delicious and infused again! You see, you might tackle and treat this recipe differently, but it always forgives you! :)
  • While the soup is delicious on its own, don’t forget to add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream while serving. Yummy!

All right. I think I might have bored you to death with such a long and boring description. I am really sorry. I hope you can forgive me as soon as you try this Svekolnik – Russian Cold Beet Soup.

Cheers for now!

4 thoughts on “Svekolnik – Russian Cold Beet Soup

  1. Marissa says:

    I’ve only had borscht, but you have me sold on trying this version of cold beet soup. Looks so refreshing and delicious! Loving the eggs in it to make it a meal on its own!

  2. Katherine | Love In My Oven says:

    Ben, my Mom would serve us borscht soup when we were kids and although we were turned off by the color we all loved it! I have never thought to try beet soup cold though. And the eggs on top are a great idea! As for the beet stains, I’m always reminded that I should wear an apron when I’m cutting them up!

  3. David @ Spiced says:

    What a fun summer soup! I can only imagine the color of your hands after you cooked those beets – whenever I cook beets, my kitchen looks like the scene of a crime. Haha! But that’s a small price to pay for a tasty bowl of this soup. We’re hitting a long stretch of VERY hot weather here, and a nice cold bowl of Svekolnik sounds quite tasty. Well done, my friend!
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