Šaltibarščiai (cold pink Lithuanian soup)

pinkIf you ask any Lithuanian about traditional Lithuanian meal, most likely they will answer “cepelinai” (zeppelins) and invite you to restaurant to taste them. Well, cepelinai are good, but… but actually cepelinai is just our trick to distract attention of foreigner from truly Lithuanian meal. Šaltibarščiai!!! Shocking pink, delitious and healthy cold soup – we can‘t imagine spring nor summer without it. If you ask any Lithuanian about šaltibarščiai (how I could explain pronouncation? Something like Shahl- tee-bahrsh-tschyay), most likely they will invite you not to restaurant, but home. As this is really the meal we are having in each family during hot summer days. Of course any temperature above 20C is regarded as hot in Lithuania.

Preparation is simple.

Šaltibarščiai. Cold pink Lithuanian soup

For 4 persons

  • 1 medium red beetroot
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • A handful of spring onion
  • A bunch of fresh dill
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Salt
  • A pinch of lemon acid
  • 800 ml buttermilk or kefir
  • 200-400 ml of cold boiled water (optionaly)
  • Sour cream (optionaly)
  • 6 medium potatoes

Boil beetroot in water until tender. Let it cool down, peel and grate coarsely. Mix with salt and a pinch of lemon acid. Leave aside.

Chop spring onions. Chop dill finely. Chop cucumber into small cubes. Mix all together with salt and let release the flavour. Add grated beetroot. Peel shells from hard-boiled eggs. One option (more comfortable, but less beautiful) – to cut eggs really small and mix with all other ingradients. Another option – to cut boiled eggs in halfs or quarters and devide to each personal plate.

Add sour cream, buttermilk or kefir. Stir. The color will appear slowly. If you like more liquid soup, add some cold boiled water. Test, is it enough salt.

Peel potatoes, cut them in half and boil in slightly salted water until tender. Calculate time, that they would be ready and hot when you all sit down for the meal.

Šaltibarščiai are served cold in the plate or bowl. On other individaul plate potatoes are served hot.

Skanaus! – this is how we wish each other delicious meal.šaltibarščiams

Useful or interesting facts

  • Grated and prepared with salt and lemon acid beetroot may stay in the fridge a week, so if you plan to make šaltibarščiai tomorrow again and after tomorrow again, and after-after tomorrow again, boil more beetroot.
  • In Lithuanian supermarkets you may find beetroots in jars in light marinade, specially for šaltibarščiai. You may even find kefir, specially for šaltibarščiai.
  • In past when all vegetables were harvesting in gardens, not in supermarkets, early in spring we already had spring onions and dills, but cucumber – not yet. So it could be replaced with Borrage herb leaves, which have cucumber aroma.
  • Spring onion – fresh green part of each onion. In Lithuanian it is called „laiškai“, what also means „letter, mail“. In Russian it is called „перья“, what also means „feather“.
  • Recipe of this soup is traveling around the world as Polish soup, but Poles themselves call it “Lithuanian cold soup”.

Recipe is dedicated to Gyöngyi, as it was promissed in happy Reibiniai days.

cold pink Lithuanian soup

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