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Chilled Russian Borscht

This luscious beet soup, served with a dollop of rich, tart sour cream and plenty of salady garnishes (cubed boiled potatoes, crunchy diced radishes, chopped hard-boiled eggs and fragrant, coarsely chopped dill), seems the very essence of Russian cooking: sustaining food that still carries hints of its homey peasant influences.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6 to 8

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  • 2 pounds medium beets, peeled and quartered
  • 11 cups water
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound Kirby cucumbers—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup finely diced radishes
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving


  1. In a large pot, cover the quartered beets with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a plate.
  2. Coarsely shred the beets in a food processor. Return them to the pot and add the sugar, lemon juice and cider vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the soup until chilled, for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potato cubes and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water. Pat dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the cucumbers, radishes, scallions, eggs, dill and parsley.
  4. Ladle the chilled borscht into bowls. Garnish with the vegetable and chopped egg mixture, top with a generous dollop of sour cream and serve.

Make Ahead

The borscht can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Prepare the garnishes just before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Borscht, especially when served cold, is delicious with a lightly earthy rosé, such as one from southern France.

Contributed By Photo © Matt Armedariz Published May 2008

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