Tatiana’s Grandmother’s Cold Beet Soup

Cold beet soup recipes vary. I have seen them with meat broth. Others include additional vegetables cooked with the beets, usually strained out and discarded (except for potatoes).

Soup bowls are assembled by each diner when all components are ready to eat. Tatiana’s family recipe is vegetarian and may not be typical. She suspects it is influenced by Jewish culinary guidelines.


The first four items are the main soup ingredients, followed by veggie and other additions. For the veggies, you can decide how much of each of these to include and how finely to chop. I prefer smaller pieces of vegetable and herb. By volume it could be close to a 1:1:1 ratio. Tatiana likes more scallion.

  • 1½ to 2 pounds of beets, whole, halved or quartered (depending on size of the beet and the patience of the cook)
  • ½ gallon of water or less
  • 1 tablespoon of leftover jam from last winter, often black currant, which has tartness and flavor, or other sweet-tart jams or concentrates like tomato paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Cubed, diced, or julienned cucumber
  • Minced dill
  • Chopped scallion
  • Hard boil eggs (at least a half an egg per serving). Keep them as halves or coarsely chop.
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons full-fat organic sour cream. (The fewer ingredients the better)
  • Whole-grain rye bread

Peel and halve or quarter the beets. Boil them in enough water to cover with an inch or two of water. It’s best to add water to dilute rather than overcook to concentrate. You don’t want the end result to be watery. Salt to taste. Add a tablespoonful or more sweet-tart jam or tomato paste. This makes for a more complex flavor. Once the beets are tender, remove from heat and allow to cool with the lid on. Once they are cool enough to be handled, use a cheese grater to grate the beets back into the pot of deep purple broth. Put the pot in the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, combine veggies in a serving bowl and chill. Ladle the beet/broth mixture into bowls. Add a scoop of the chopped vegetables and a heaping soup spoon (or a half or even two halves) of hardboiled eggs. Finally, add a heaping tablespoon or two (as much as you’re comfortable with, really) of sour cream. Stir the soup. It will transform into a bright beautiful pink. Serve with good whole-grain rye bread.