Borscht with Buttermilk and Grated Cucumber


Packed with fresh summer herbs, this chilled beet soup is bright, earthy, and doesn't require turning on your stove. Grated beets are quickly marinated in a pickle juice brine to mellow their earthiness before they are stirred together with grated cucumber and buttermilk for a crisp, cooling bite. The topping of quartered hard-cooked eggs, generous dollops of sour cream, and fresh herbs add textural interest, color, and heft as they help make each bowl a satisfying meal.

Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Thom Driver
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins


  • 2 pounds peeled cooked red beets

  • ½ cup dill pickle juice

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 large cucumber (about 12 ounces), peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded

  • 1 cup cold water

  • ½ cup chopped scallions (from 4 large scallions), plus more for garnish

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 4 cups buttermilk

  • 8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • Chopped fresh herbs (such as chives or flat-leaf parsley), for serving


  1. Using large holes of a box grater, grate beets into a large bowl. Add pickle juice, sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt; toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until flavors meld, about 30 minutes.

  2. Using large holes of a box grater, grate cucumber into beet mixture in bowl. Add 1 cup cold water, scallions, dill, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt; gently stir until mixture is combined. Add buttermilk in 2 additions, gently stirring and folding until soup turns fuchsia and is evenly colored. Stir in additional salt and pepper to taste. (The soup should be assertively seasoned.)

  3. Refrigerate soup, covered, until very cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Serve topped with hard-cooked eggs, sour cream, chopped fresh herbs, and additional scallions and dill.

Make Ahead

Soup can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Use whole-fat buttermilk for extra richness. Look for pre-cooked beets in the refrigerated produce section. Rub cooked beets with a paper towel to easily remove their skins.

Suggested Pairing

Light, fruity red: Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

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