Cold Summer Borscht

Take it outside…

I am a city kid. New York is my third parent: encouraging and exasperating; cruel and inspiring, depending on its mood and mine. When I was abroad, I yearned for New York—the friends who roam its streets and live in its towers; the 24/7 tonic of availability (“sure, you can have Pho at four in the morning”). But no matter how much I love this or any city, I crave expansive spaces. I want to feel grass under my bare feet and the sun on my skin.

A fire escape is okay. A moss carpet is better. Somewhere with grass and sunlight that angles through the leafy shade. Take it outside.

Pull a table out away from the house. Start dinner before the sun sets, but light lots of candles. Let the music fade behind the crickets and bird songs. Drink cold lemonade, tea that steeped in sunlight, rosé or gin and tonics. Drink cool magenta soup out of sherbet cups.

Mamma’s Cold Summer Borscht

1 large sweet onion, chopped
6 ribs of celery including any leafy greens on tips, chopped
3 lbs ruby red (or golden) beets, cleaned, top stems and root trimmed, and peeled
6 stems fresh dill + chopped fresh dill for garnish
¼ tsp fennel seed (optional)
6 cups chicken stock
3 tbsps olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper
crème fraîche or sour cream for garnish

Sauté onions and celery over low heat in olive oil until vegetables are translucent. Chop beets into quarters and add to pot along with the dill stems and fennel seeds. Cook briefly, then add chicken stock and seasonings.  Simmer until beets are tender, about 45 minutes.  Cool, remove dill stems, purée in batches; chill for several hours.
Serve in bowls with dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream for garnish sprinkled with chopped fresh dill.

I hope these images inspire you to take it outside, but I can’t take credit for all of them. The top right one of the table in the orange grove is Jill Thomas Photography; the photographer of the image with the many lanterns under the tree is unknown. Please contact me if you’d like either removed or credited differently.

To leave a comment, please click here, and scroll down to where it says “Leave a Reply.”

Tags: , , , , ,

16 Responses to “Cold Summer Borscht”

  1. pat kurs says:

    Tirajial ‘s vibrant gift is the magical way in which she can
    beautify and celebrate living for herself and the many
    people who are so fortunate to share her wonderful taste.
    Her writing is delicious and colored with passionate shades of
    subtlety. Definitely a talented, multifaceted scribe.

  2. rebeccag says:

    Yummy! I love borscht. Made a hot version with beef stock the other day. More suitable for the TERRIBLE weather we’ve been having here in England.

  3. sam g says:

    Ms. Lovage, you’ve done it again…a not so favorite soup (though I do like the occasional beet!) so enticingly written about, I think I will have to give it another try. Gosh, you write so descriptively….DO NOT STOP! What will you tempt me with next, I want to know?

  4. Noodle says:

    I love Borscht, I would also recommend finding a recipe for a borscht with cream in it. That is my favorite, when making it I combine the warm and cold recipes (however I feel like at the time) from the Silver Palate cookbook. There is something fun about adding the acid to the cream in the correct way so as not to curdle it. I get nervous but it always works out.

    • Noodle says:

      OH! One more thing, my absolute favorite thing to dip in any Eastern European soup is Polish Rye Bread (softer doughy-er) with sweet butter.

    • Tarajia says:

      Love that idea! Admittedly I love a good curdle! Milk braised pork with lemon juice to curdle it is an amazing recipe I’ll try to wrangle and share. X

  5. Sally Branson Lynch says:

    You described exactly how I feel about NYC AND the country– except I can’t do it as well as you!!
    I love the way your recipes help me to enjoy a dish that I had thought would be too difficult for me to attempt. As always my mouth is watering!
    Thank you (again!).

  6. Bronson Moorehead says:

    You have bear feet?

  7. Baselblast says:

    Exactly what I have been hankering for, thank you! Yours is the freshest, most distinctive, and seeringly spot on (no pun intended) writer’s voice. I always look forward to these posts as do our friends. Keep your two feet bare…

  8. Irene Hopkins says:

    I just subscribed to the site – finally! Duh!


  9. Irene Hopkins says:


    This blog is so beautiful. Sumptuous photos, great writing, mouth-watering recipes. Keep up the good work. You really have something great here! I’m so impressed.

    Let me know if you ever decide to do a Seattle foodie trip. Great restaurants here and great markets too.



  10. Melissa Millay says:

    P.S. Thank you for these wonderful recipes. I made the Spaghetti Al Limone after reading your “Domestic Goddess: Sophia Loren” post and it was fabulous. Paired it with a 2009 St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio and received raves all around!

  11. Melissa Millay says:

    Such torture! First, the beautiful narrative, then the gorgeous photography and, as a last carrot dangled before my hungry nose, the recipe.

    I will attempt the soup, but I have a question. Are beets summer vegetables or winter vegetables? I like both hot and cold borscht, but I’ve always wondered which is the best use of beets.

  12. T – The photos of your receipes make me want to try the yummy purple velvet of your borscht. And Al Fresco in summer with lanterns and candles, it doesn’t get any better.
    The Farmer’s Market Beets were grilled last week with a fish accompaniment for the 4th but this week will be pureed into your Borscht.

  13. sauci says:

    This is so inviting and cooling to the spirit. I like best the photo with the sun filtering through the treetops. I am here in the city but as I read I am
    transported to the tranquillity of the seashore or a woodland retreat.
    Thank you, Ms. Lovage, for this moment of respite from urban living.

Leave a Reply