Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Why Beets Make the Most Beautiful Cold Soup


Beets get a bad rap. Healthy and sweet, roasted beets are delicious on their own, in a salad or a refreshing soup.

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Cold Beet Soup


Growing up, I associated them with borsht. Made by Manischewitz, a leading producer of kosher foods, the tall colorful jar in the refrigerator didn’t look like my vision of soup. My grandmother, a Russian immigrant, loved it, and had it for lunch with a boiled potato. Since it wasn’t served for dinner, I happily gave this strange feast a wide berth. I never even tried it.

Uncooked Beets

Raw Beets


Pickled beets occasionally accompanied dinner. However, the tangy flavor of pickled vegetables did not fit with my childhood preference for less piquant flavors.


I attribute my epiphany to a beautiful plate of beet ravioli. The fresh roasted filling contained an incomparable sweetness, erasing all previous memories. Although I now know that roasting any vegetable increases its sweetness, the transformation it brings about in the beet is truly remarkable.

Beets Finished Roasting

Roasted Beets

Beets Nutrition

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. The benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and detoxification support. They are also rich in antioxidants.

Beet Recipes

My go to recipe for the vegetable was roasted beet salad until I discovered cold beet soup. Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it’s perfect for a hot day. Saltibarsciai  is a  specialty of Lithuania. It’s garnished with a combination of cucumber, dill, scallions or hard boiled eggs and often served with a side of boiled potatoes. Attempting to modernize my grandmother’s favorite lunch, I updated the recipe to take full advantage of the fresh roasted flavor. Unlike traditional recipes, my recipe begins with roasting beets rather than boiling. I want to extract every ounce of sweet flavor into the dish.

Beets Coated in Olive Oil

Beets Prepared for Roasting


For other lunch ideas try my recipes for authentic poke, twice – baked potatoes or kale salad.


Cold Beet Soup

4-6 Servings

4 medium beets, scrubbed

Olive oil

1/4 heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

2 cups kefir

11/2 teaspoons lemon juice



Sliced cucumber


Preheat oven to 400F. Place cleaned beets on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool until they are not hot to the touch. Peel off skins. They should come off easily. If  some skin remains take it off with a peeler. Grate peeled beets.

Roasted and Grated Beets

Grated Beets

Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold in the kefir. Mix with grated beets and puree. Taste. Add lemon juice if necessary to balance the sweetness. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir for Cold Beet Soup

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir

For a heartier meal add sliced radish, scallions, and hard boiled eggs Serve with a side of boiled potatoes with parsley.









Chopped Tomatoes

How This Easy Gazpacho Recipe Can Keep You Cool

Authentic Gazpacho

I love gazpacho. Chopped vegetables in cold juice are so restorative on a hot day. Nevertheless, I knew my go to recipe was far from authentic. A variation on Ina Garten’sfrom The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, it has chopped vegetables rather than pureed. Most Spanish recipes for gazpacho feature smooth soups, with chunky vegetables and croutons used as a garnish. With this year’s tomato season underway I could rectify my departure from tradition. I would find a new recipe.

Chopped Tomatoes


Spanish Chefs

To learn the history of Spanish food I read Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. I then moved on to the other end of the spectrum with Omar Alibhoy’s simple yet modern interpretations of classic cuisine from Tapas Revolution. Surprisingly, traditional recipes seemed less complicated. It’s much simpler to puree everything in a blender than to keep each individual ingredient crunchy.

Chopped Red Pepper

Red Pepper


Spain fell under Islamic rule in the 700’s. In 929 Abd-Al-Rahman III declared himself caliph of a state independent of Bagdad, Cordoba. During this time Spain’s culture flourished, including the areas of agriculture and gastronomy. Trade in spices and aromatics was heavy throughout the Mediterranean, the Islamic world, the Far East and India.  Spanish cooking techniques still show the influences of the many Jewish and Muslim traders. I followed Omar Alihboy’s suggestion to add cumin to my gazpacho. Cumin was already a feature of Spanish recipes when Ferdinand and Isabella married in 1469.

Raw Garlic



Gazpacho comes from Seville, the province in Spain where tomatoes originate. It was the food of agricultural laborers working in vegetable gardens. They would bring olive oil, salt and vinegar to the fields with their mortar and pestle. The fresh vegetables could then be pounded and dressed for the day’s meal. Until the mid-twentieth century 80% of Spain’s population was employed in agriculture.


Smooth Gazpacho

New Recipe

I love that this gazpacho can be served as a traditional cold soup with garnishes, or as a shooter with brunch. I can waited to try it with bagels and lox. For other summer food ideas try my Summer Kale SaladGrilled Sweet Potatoes, or Southwestern Salad.

Smooth Gazpacho with Vegetable Garnish

Smooth Gazpacho Garnished with Vegetables

Smooth Gazpacho

Serves 8

3 slices white bread

4 pounds tomatoes, stem and had white area removed

3 red pepper seeds removed and quartered

2 cloves garlic, root removed

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

8 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste


Dice 1/2 cup each of red pepper and cucumber. Slice 4 scallions


Toast the bread, remove the crusts. Cube the toast.


Add all the ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth. Serve as a shooter in a glass or garnished with red pepper, cucumber and scallion.