Cooling Summer Soup

The recent tropical heat and humidity (global climate change in action?) has made us crave cooling soups. Here’s a yogurt-based soup, loosely inspired by the summer soups of Poland and Russia.

You may find it surprisingly hearty, substantial enough for a meal, especially if you serve it with a side of steamed new potatoes. It’s made with beets, the deep red kind, that give the soup its shocking pink color.

Summer Soup 

  • 4 small beetroots, with tops 
  • 3 cups or so salted water 
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 small cucumber, lightly peeled if skin is tough, seeded, and finely diced 
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced 
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped dill, plus fronds for garnish 
  • 3 scallions or very small spring onions, sliced on the bias 
  • 3 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, shelled and quartered

Wash beets. Early in the season young beets may not need peeling, just trimming. Cut off beet stems. Chop stems and some tender beet greens. Simmer beet stems, leaves, trimmings in salted water flavored with vinegar and sugar until stems are tender and water is deep pink, about 15 minutes. Strain broth.

Cut beetroot into 1⁄4 inch slices and dice. Put in a pan with enough broth to cover, topping up with more water if necessary. Simmer for 10 minutes until just tender and cool in their broth.

Strain broth, saving a spoonful or two for later, and set cooked beetroot aside. In a bowl, gradually dilute yogurt with broth until soup is creamy and light. Add chilled water or ice cubes, if you want it thinner. Season with salt and pepper to taste, more vinegar if you like it sharper.

Stir in most of the vegetables– dice beets and cucumber into 1⁄4 inch cubes, along with the sliced radishes and scallions and all the finely chopped dill. (Reserve some of the vegetables, and spoonfuls of broth, for the garnish.). Keep soup in fridge until ready to serve.

Ladle chilled soup into shallow bowls and garnish with reserved vegetables and hard-cooked egg quarters. Drizzle over reserved beet broth. Pull apart extra dill into wispy fronds and scatter over the top. With steamed new potatoes this can make a meal, or serve smaller portions as a first course. Makes enough for six.

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