When I was growing up (in a household of WWII Russian refugees), one of my vivid memories is having soup as the first course for dinner just about every day. All sorts of soups, mostly Russian recipes by my mother and grandmother. Winters in Russia are quite severe, so of course most Russian soup recipes are for hot, stomach-warming soups. But for the times when the heat of summer discourages Russian cooks from using any kind of stove or oven, there is a traditional cold soup called Okroshka that is perfect for hot summer days.
Okroshka is traditionally made with kvass (a mildly alcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread), but I don't know of anyplace that most of us can buy kvass (unless we live in Eastern Europe). I do remember my grandparents making kvass in our basement occasionally, but it was never something that I developed a taste for. The kvass gives the soup a bit of a tangy flavor, but my recipe just uses vinegar for that. You can read more than you ever wanted to know about kvass here. And about Okroshka here.
The Okroshka that I remember eating in my childhood was always made with beets in addition to the other traditional vegetables in the recipe. Most recipes that I find on the internet don't include the beets, but it's the only way that I make it.
Anyway, I've served this to some of my quilting friends a few times, and everyone seems to like it. I've had requests for the recipe, so I thought I'd just write it up here in a blog post. When you first read the ingredients, it sounds like an awful combination, but the flavors seem to work well together. And the picture is pretty, too.
I suppose you could also call this a version of a cold borscht, but I like to call it Pretty in Pink Soup.
Here you go...and please remember that a lot of the amounts are approximations. I almost never measure for this.
Pretty in Pink Soup
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced (the long ones in the grocery store or you can use the equivalent of smaller home-grown cukes)
2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
4-5 radishes, sliced into small pieces
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
12 oz sour cream (OK, use the low-fat if you must, but don't even bother with non-fat)
1 24-oz jar borscht with diced beets (found in the kosher section of Wegmans or probably any other larger grocery store with a kosher section)
1 large potato, baked, peeled, cooled, and diced (don't overbake)
1/4 cup vinegar (to start)
1/4 cup sugar (to start)
1 cup water
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill
In large soup pot, combine cucumber, scallions, radishes, eggs, and sour cream. Add borscht and stir until blended. Add potato, vinegar, sugar, water, and dill. Stir and taste. Add more sugar, vinegar, or water to taste, but don't overdo it -- taste it after it's been refrigerated. The flavor gets a bit more intense when it's ice cold (and don't add too much water or it will be too diluted). Serve ice cold. Add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it. Enjoy!