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Polish chilled beetroot soup recipe

Polish chilled beetroot soup recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Vegetable soup
  • Root vegetable soup
  • Borscht

This is a Polish recipe for a refreshing and healthy chilled beetroot soup with kefir and yoghurt. It is served with hard-boiled eggs and fresh dill.

5 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 2 bunches young beetroots with leaves (or 2 beetroots and 1 bunch Swiss chard)
  • 2 bunches radishes, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, shredded
  • 1 bunch dill, minced
  • 200g plain kefir
  • 370g natural yoghurt
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:20min ›Extra time:1hr › Ready in:1hr40min

  1. Wash and trim (or peel) beets. Boil in water until soft. Drain but reserve cooking liquid in the pot. Cool and shred the beetroots. Return them to to the cooking liquid. Add washed, chopped beetroot leaves or Swiss chard leaves.
  2. Add radishes, cucumber and dill.
  3. In a small bowl, combine kefir and yogurt and mix well. Add to the pot. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Chill.
  4. Peel eggs and cut into quarters. Served with the cold soup.


If you cannot find beetroot with their leaves, use Swiss chard leaves instead.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Polish Cold Beet Soup, Lithuanian-style (Chłodnik)

‘Chłodnik litewski’ (pron.: ‘hwoah-dnick leetevski’) – the traditional and refreshing Polish cold soup – is a delicious memory of the warm days of late spring and summer. It’s a promise of relief from the summertime heat, and a promise that’s delivered every time.

This cold beet soup is quite thick, pleasantly sour and 100% cooling. It’s jam-packed with young beets (with their beet greens intact), herbs (dill and parsley), and crunchy chunks of fresh veggies (hello, radishes and cucumbers!).

And there’s no Chłodnik without a boiled egg, halved or quartered, gently floating in the sea of beetroot goodness. It’s such a lovely (and very Polish) combination of flavours.

This is a no-fail recipe, that is impossible to mess up. Go on and try it!

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

‘Chłodnik Litewski’ literally means ‘Lithuanian Cold Soup’. So is it Polish, or Lithuanian?
It is actually… both.

The history of this soup dates back to the 14th century (sic!), when the Jagiellonian dynasty ruled in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The old-Polish cuisine would spread to Lithuania, and the Lithuanian flavours would spread back to the Crown.

This delightful dish comes from the region of Podlachia. The vicinity of Sejny county still has a large Lithuanian minority. That’s why many of the regional dishes are heavily influenced by the Lithuanian culinary arts.

In may 2016, ‘Chłodnik Litewski’ was listed on the traditional product list of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the voivodeship of Podlachia. (source in Polish)

Recipe Summary

  • 3 beets with leaves and stems - beets peeled and chopped, leaves sliced
  • water to cover
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 small cucumber, grated
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint buttermilk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ⅓ lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Cover beets with water in a pot and bring to a boil cook until tender about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chicken stock. Allow beets to cool.

Mix cucumber, egg, dill, and green onions in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk and sour cream until smooth in another bowl. Stir egg mixture and buttermilk mixture into cooled beets. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Polish Beet Soup Recipe

This super simple, authentic Polish Beet Soup Recipe is both delicious and super healthy! This sweet, earthy soup in enjoyed by northern European countries whose main vegetables are root veggies. Very delightful and a great use of those garden beets.

This beet soup is light and refreshing. A healthy, vegetarian soup that is easy and super tasty!

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They are colorful, very good for you and their sweet earthiness is unique and versatile. People enjoy them in salads, soups, sandwiches, pickled and even in smoothies. For the Northern climates, beets are a staple. They grow well in cold weather and as with most root vegetables, can survive, even thrive in light frosts. Most Northern communities enjoy some variation of beet soup and Poland is no exception. I like the simplistic nature of their typical beet soup recipe. Just a few ingredients, nothing that overpowers the beauty of the beet.

I keep a jar of rendered fat in my fridge. I love cooking onions with it or frying potatoes, adding a bit more flavor and depth, not to mention, it’s free. This is a tip I picked up from my parents. Rendered fat has a high smoke point and carries on the flavor of the meat it came from. Bacon fat is the most common in my house but I am starting to use more rendered chicken fat, also known as Schmaltz. I keep all of the fat in the same jar in my fridge. Oh and duck fat is cooks gold! Give it a try.

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Milk Recipe: Polish Chlodnik Litewski (Cold Beet Soup)

“Borscht” is what many American cooks will want to call this soup. But it couldn’t be more different from the sweet kinds that often represent the Russian borshch in American kitchens. It belongs to a family of cold soups that are based on sour milk or cream and some other sour principle, usually sauerkraut or pickle brine or some version of the fermented drink called kvas in Russia, kwas in Poland. Beets are just one of the things that can go into them.

Poles are particularly dedicated to this kind of cold soup (“chlodnik” in Polish), which they make in an amazing spectrum of different guises. The original secrets of flavor are two: Chlodnik used to be made from sour whole milk with all the butterfat intact — in other words, something at least two or three times as creamy as the usual American cultured buttermilk. To come close, you must throw in a good slug of sour cream. In addition, Poles and most other Eastern Europeans have a summer-fall tradition of pickling nearly anything that can conceivably be pickled, from apples to tomatoes. Cooks thus regularly have (or used to have) several different kinds of brine on hand to add to chlodnik — or they might put in some kwas/kvas made from bread or beets.

The resulting soups, often enriched with crunchy raw radishes or cucumbers, are liquid quasi-salads as gloriously varied and wonderfully refreshing as the gazpachos of Spain. Perhaps the most famous and certainly the most dramatic-looking of the Polish-chlodnik tribe is this classic version made from beets and beet greens. Poles attribute it to Lithuania, at one time a Polish possession (hence the name “Litewski”).

If you live near Polish, Russian or Serbian communities with stores selling barrels of summer vegetables and fruits in brine, be sure to get some in season and add a little of the brine to the soup in lieu of sauerkraut juice. The color is most beautiful when a grated raw beet is mixed in at the end. Yields about 2 quarts (8 cups).


4 to 5 medium beets, with leafy tops
4 to 6 radishes
3 to 4 small, thin-skinned Persian-type cucumbers, or an 8-inch piece of an English hothouse cucumber
6 to 8 scallions, whites and part of green tops
2 garlic cloves, or to taste
1 quart cultured buttermilk, at least 1.5 percent milkfat and made without salt or gums
1 cup sour cream, preferably Russian-type smetana
1/2 to 2/3 cup juice from sauerkraut or full-sour kosher-style dill pickles
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
A large handful of fresh dill
2 to 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)


Cut off the beet tops at least half an inch above the root and rinse thoroughly. Scrub the beets well. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add 3 or 4 of the beets along with the greens. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the beets are tender when probed with a knife, usually 25 to 40 minutes. Drain the beets and greens separately, and let cool.

Meanwhile, scrub the radishes and cucumbers and grate both on the coarse side of a box grater. Clean, trim and mince the scallions. Mince the garlic, or crush it to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Chop the drained beet greens fairly coarse. Peel the beets, and cut into fine slivers or dice.

Now combine the buttermilk, sour cream, 1/2 cup of the sauerkraut juice, and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a large bowl, whisking to a smooth consistency. Stir in all the vegetables. Grate the remaining raw beet on the fine side of a box grater and add the pulp and juice to the soup. Taste for seasoning and add more brine or salt as you prefer. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Serve very cold, garnished with plenty of fresh dill and the optional chopped hard-boiled eggs.

This recipe is from Anne Mendelson’s book Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages . To read more from her fantastic book, check out The Astonishing Story of Real Milk from our October/November 2011 issue.

Check out more of Anne Mendelson’s fabulous milk recipes from around the world:

Barszcz (Polish Borscht)

Our Polish Borscht recipe (Barszcz) is chock full of veggies and boasts a bright, sweet and sour flavor that makes it a perfect first course or warming meal.

Polish Recipes

Polish cuisine is rich in meat, especially chicken and pork, and winter vegetables (cabbage in the dish bigos), and spices, as well as different kinds of noodles the most notable of which are the pierogi. It is related to other Slavic cuisines in usage of kasza and other cereals. Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty. The traditional cuisine generally is demanding and Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to prepare and enjoy their festive meals, with some meals (like Christmas eve or Easter Breakfast) taking a number of days to prepare in their entirety. Traditionally, the main meal is eaten about 2 p.m., and is usually composed of three courses, starting with a soup, such as popular bouillon or tomato or more festive barszcz (beet) or zurek (sour rye meal mash), followed perhaps in a restaurant by an appetizer of herring (prepared in either cream, oil, or vinegar).

Other popular appetizers are various cured meats, vegetables or fish in aspic. The main course is usually meaty including a roast or kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet). Vegetables, currently replaced by leaf salad, were not very long ago most commonly served as 'surowka' - shredded root vegetables with lemon and sugar (carrot, celeriac, beetroot) or fermented cabbage (kapusta kwaszona). The sides are usually boiled potatoes or more traditionally kasha (cereals). Meals often conclude with a dessert such as makowiec (poppy seed cake), or drozdzwka, a type of yeast cake. Other Polish specialities include chlodnik (a chilled beet or fruit soup for hot days), golonka (pork knuckles cooked with vegetables), kolduny (meat dumplings), zrazy (stuffed slices of beef), salceson and flaczki (tripe).

The elementary ingredients of Poland's cuisine are dictated by cereal crops such as rye, wheat, millet, barley and buckwheat. Rye bread is typical of this part of Europe. Bread has always had enormous symbolic importance to Poles. Buckwheat is also often seen in the Polish cuisine today. It is Poland's most popular side dish. Pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, beetroot, cabbage (sauerkraut) and kohlrabi have become an essential part of Polish cooking. The idea of pickling is not limited to vegetables herring, fished in the Baltic, is soused with spices and vinegar and used among other things, for fasting days and holy days. This has remained as Poland's favourite national food. With the accent on storage, sour cream, curd cheese and soured milk have become important constituents of the Polish kitchen. Fresh cream and milk would be left to ferment. These dairy products have become an essential element in the taste and flavour of Polish cooking. Meat plays a significant importance in the Polish diet. Perhaps the most famous Polish meat known is the kielbasa, the Polish sausage. Polish food has much to offer, and I for one enjoy its robustness. As the Polish would say, "Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa". "Eat, drink and loosen your belt".

The Polish on the other hand, they LOVE their soup. Never is a meal served without soup.

Love beets? Try traditional Polish Borscht.

Tim&rsquos parents have told us many stories about going to do yard work on a hot summer day for Tim&rsquos Polish Great Aunt, and when they would come in for lunch, sweaty and tired, the first thing she would set before them was a steaming, hot bowl of soup.

Not quite what you would want for a mid-day pick-me-up.

Lithuanian Recipes

A national dish of Lithuania, kugelis is a rich and hearty potato pudding. My version is made with chicken pieces, which steam inside the potato mixture, making them moist and delicious. (View recipe)

The national dish of Lithuania, cepelinai are hearty, nourishing and delicious. Written for cooks making cepelinai for the first time, this recipe includes step-by-step instructions with photos. (View recipe)

These delicious dumplings are the perfect comfort food – quick to cook, mild in flavour and served with a dollop of sour cream and a salty bacon and onion topping. (View recipe)

Another of Lithuania’s national dishes, these cabbage rolls are stuffed with seasoned ground pork and served with a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Recipe includes step-by-step photos. (View recipe)

These Lithuanian-style doughnuts are light and airy and not at all cheesy! They do not require yeast and so are quick and easy to prepare. (View recipe)

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Chłodnik – 1 – Clear Beetroots

The word chłodnik means coolant and it is a refreshing start to a meal in summer. The word is often translated as cold soup and that just does not do it justice.

Now my mother never made chłodnik and with the thoughts of a cold soup, which might be a little greasy I never imagined it would be good.

Then on a summer visit to Poland, one of my aunties made it with beetroots from her garden. She served it with a bowl of steaming boiled potatoes, lightly crushed, also freshly dug from the garden. I remember these as the most delicious potatoes I had ever had. The chłodnik was wonderful and I was hooked!

This is a chilled version of barszcz the classic Polish beetroot soup.

I make the clear, meat-free, Lenten barszcz made for Wigilia – Christmas Eve .

Many years ago I started to make my barszcz with beetroot concentrate as the base, with the addition of vegetable stock and this has proved to be very popular. This is what I used for the chłodnik.

I sometimes also use barszcz from a carton, which is incredible, tastes home made! However there was none in stock at my local Polish shop last week.