Sunday, July 10, 2011

Svekolnik - Another Cold Summer Soup

I brought back this recipe from my recent trip to Russia. We were visiting some good old friends who gave us a warm welcome with this cold soup !

Svekolnik takes it name from the main ingredient - the beetroot - which in Russian is called "svekla". This particular recipe calls for young, tender veggies, ideally just picked from your own garden. Those of us confined in city appartments will have to make do with the freshest veggies we can find. Do not be afraid to use the greens from the carrots and beetroot, but make sure you wash them thoroughly before use.

Just as for the previous recipes on this blog, there is an endlessly ongoing combat in the underground world of russian cuisine aficionados. That combat carries the code name "My Recipe Is More Authentic Then Yours". I warmly encourage you, dear reader, to steer clear of the advice of anyone claiming such nonsense. My zen reply to all of that is : Trust your tastebuds. They will lead you on the path of truth.
Seriously now, of the hundreds of different recipes you might find of this beetroot soup, the following one is my favourite for its uncommon use of ginger and spices which are not exactly traditional, but bring this dish to a completely new level of taste and deliciousness.

This is a very seasonal soup, and the quantities are not very precise, because the vegetables may vary in size. Trust your instincts and your appetite to tweak the quantities given here.
Oh and as a reminder- it's a cold soup, which means even though it only takes 15 minutes to cook, it needs to be prepared in advance because it needs time to cool down.

Without further ado - on to the recipe!

3 young beetroots with leaves
1 bunch of young carrots with leaves
6 new potatoes

1/2 a lemon (for the juice)

a handful of fresh spinach
a handful of fresh sorrel

any of the following fresh herbs in any combination:
basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, dill

fresh ginger (optional)
cumin seeds (optional)
coriander seeds (optional)

To serve:
1 boiled egg per serving (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. Cut the greens off the vegetables and put them aside. Dice all the vegetables.

2. Your soup will taste better if you cook it with mineral water, or any kind of bottled water.
Half-fill a large pot with cold water, and throw in the potatoes, carrots and beetroot.

3. While you're bringing the veggies to a boil, wash and roughly chop all the greens, the spinach and the sorrel. Finely dice the ginger root.

4. When the soup is boiling, turn the fire down, throw in all that stuff you've been chopping and dicing in 3.

5. Add salt, pepper, cumin and coriander seeds and lemon juice.

6. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, but turn the stove off before the greens lose their colour.

7. Let the soup cool down before serving. Serve with a boiled egg cut in halves and a spoonful of sour cream. Feel your entire body cool down as you eat this heavenly refreshing dish. Sigh with delight. Ask for seconds.

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