I was born in Belarus; therefore, I would like to share with you a part of Belarusian culture, specifically, a part of Belarusian cuisine.
During the hot summer season people always want a little bit of freshness and coolness. I have a great recipe of a cold soup with a strange for non-Russian speakers name “Cholodnik”. The term “Cholodnik” means “chilled”. It is a very popular summer soup in Belarus. Also, it is my favorite soup. Every time, when my sister and I visited our grandma, she always made it for us. Together with mashed potatoes sprinkled with dill, “Cholodnik” is a perfect summer meal. Not only it is delicious and refreshing, but also is very quick and easy to prepare. It takes no longer than 40 minutes to cook it. There are many variations of this soup. I will tell you the most traditional recipe of “Cholodnik”.
To cook it one will need the following ingredients:
- 6-8 small fresh beets (about 2 pounds with tops)
- a bunch of green onions (1/4 pound)
- a bunch of dill
- 3 medium cucumbers (1- 1 ½ pounds)
- 5-6 radishes
- 3-4 eggs
- Kefir (yogurt) (1 bottle or 1 liter)
- Champagne (or apple) vinegar (2 teaspoons)
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 teaspoons)
- Salt (1 tablespoon)
- Sugar (1/4 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper (1 ½ teaspoon)
Now, let’s try to do it.
First, wash the beetroot (including the stalks and leaves).Remove stalks and leaves from the beets. Don’t throw them away, as they are said to contain more vitamins and minerals than the root itself.Remove skins from beets and grate them through coarse blade of a grater (you may want to wear gloves).
In a deep pot, cover beets with cold water and bring to a boil. While the water is warming, cut stalks and leaves left from the beets. They cook quickly; therefore, add them to the pot when beets are almost ready (ten minutes before the end of the cooking). It usually takes twenty-five to thirty minutes before beets are ready.
Then, remove all ingredients to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve and also set aside to cool.
While waiting for beets, chop the onion and dill. Cucumbers and radishes could be cut in small dice or grated.
Put cooled grated beets with stalks and leave, sliced cucumbers and radishes, and chopped onion and dill into a large pan. Then, add lemon juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper there. Fill the bowl with Kefir (yogurt) and 3 ½ cups of the beet cooking liquid. Cover the pan with lid and chill in the refrigerator for couple hours before serving.
Ladle into bowls and top each serving with chopped dill and cooled boiled egg halves. One can also add an ice cube or two before serving.
“Cholodnik” is ready. Enjoy!
If you are in the part of the world where the heat is rising, you should definitely try it!
Here is a short video where one can see how to cook traditional Belarusian “Cholodnik”.