A fresh, filling and delicious soup for a hot summer day! Slightly sour pickled beetroot and refreshing cucumber in cold yoghurt-style Kefir, topped with lots of spring onion and dill, this is one of the most popular summer dishes in Lithuania. Just like Spanish Gaspacho, Lithuanian Beetroot Soup is served cold with some warm potatoes on the side! Whilst its real name is Šaltibarščiai (which translates as Cold Borschtz), it is more widely known as Lithuanian Pink Soup!
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Favourite Lithuanian Soup Recipe
When I asked Seb what his favourite Eastern European dish was, he didn’t even have to think when he almost exclaimed: ‘Pink Soup!’. We enjoy it almost every week during the summer months. Whilst some mark the start of the summer season with a BBQ, we have a tradition here to declare summer by getting the flip-flops out of the back of the shoe cabinet and making the first Pink Soup of the season.
I am under no illusion that the combination of ingredients for this soup is unconventional, to say the least. When I think about it, I am completely baffled at how such a RANDOM variety makes such a wonderful summer dish. Beetroot lightly pickled in vinegar, kefir (that’s gaining more and more popularity in Western Europe), cucumber and eggs make up the basis of the dish. As pickling and fermented milk (kefir) are linked to gut health, this meal is definitely good for you too.
If you’re intrigued, let’s jump into the recipe itself!
- cucumber: about 300g of cucumber will be needed to serve four. We use short Kirby cucumber when we can, but English cucumber works just as well.
- grated beetroot: we preserve grated beets ourselves to use in this cold beetroot soup, but you can buy them in Eastern European Food shops or even larger supermarkets. See more details below.
- eggs: 1 egg per person.
- dill: use fresh dill if you can, but frozen or even dried dill can be used too.
- spring onions: sliced on the diagonal
- kefir: is a fermented milk drink that has a slightly sour taste. You will find it in Eastern European food isles or even on the yoghurt shelves in large supermarkets. In the UK, you are likely to find Milko Kefir in the Polish food section.
- baby potatoes: can be replaced with other types of potatoes, but we enjoy waxy varieties with Lithuanian cold beet soup most of all.
How to Make Lithuanian Pink Soup?
Making the soup itself takes minutes to make, so this recipe will take you no longer than potatoes and eggs take to boil.
Start by boiling potatoes until tender. Then drain, add a knob of butter and fresh chopped dill and shake the pan to cover the potatoes in dill butter. At the same time, hard-boil the eggs. It will take about 12 minutes in boiling water. Cool the eggs under cold running water in the sink. Peel and slice the eggs into rounds.
Add the grated beetroot (together with most of the pickling liquid), cucumber, dill and half of the spring onions to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the fridge-cold kefir, season with salt and pepper, and mix. Add the eggs, scatter the remaining spring onions on top and serve with hot boiled potatoes on the side.
Where Can I Get Pickled Grated Beetroot?
If you are in the UK, you can buy jars of grated beetroot in Tesco’s international aisles (or on Tesco Online Groceries). We use and love Dawtona Grated Beetroot. Alternatively, you can get it in most Eastern European/ Polish shops. However, if you cannot find any, here are two options for you:
- You can buy cooked beetroot in a vacuum. Cut the beetroots into thin sticks (julienne) or you can coarsely grate them. Reserve and add any liquid in the vacuum into the soup, alongside a tablespoon of cider vinegar.
- Make your own pickled grated beets!
Serving Lithuanian Cold Pink Soup
Saltibarsciai, a.k.a. pink soup is best to be served freshly made. The reason for this is that beetroot will colour the vegetables and the egg if left for a prolonged period of time and it the soup will be less aesthetically pleasing (still delicious though).
Serve the soup chilled, so if you made it before your potatoes are cooked, make sure to pop it in the fridge to keep cold.
Serve hot potatoes with dill on the side. Some eat the potatoes separately from the soup, others (hint, me!) add them one by one straight to the soup. It warms up the soup slightly, but I really enjoy the contrast between the hot potato and the cold soup in one mouthful.
Other Soup Recipes To Try
For other soup ideas, have a look at our recipes below:
- Thick & Creamy Sweetcorn Chowder (Vegan)
- Courgette & Potato Soup with Cheddar Crisps
- Indian-Spiced Lentil & Carrot Soup
Our Best Lithuanian Recipes
If you are intrigued and excited to try more Lithuanian cuisine, you are in the right place. We love cooking traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation, as well as modern Lithuanian cuisine. Here are some of our favourite recipes:
- Lithuanian Honey Cake With Fourteen Layers
- Lithuanian Potato Pancakes (Bulviniai Blynai)
- Lithuanian Chocolate Fridge Cake | Tinginys
- Lithuanian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Tomato Sauce (Balandeliai)
- Fried Pork Dumplings With Cheese & Sour Cream
Cold Beetroot Soup a.k.a Lithuanian Pink Soup
For the Soup:
- 1 cucumber (approx. 300g) diced
- 1 jar pickled grated beetroot (510g) see details above
- 4 eggs
- 5 g dill finely chopped
- 2 spring onions sliced on the diagonal
- salt & pepper
- 1 l kefir
For the Potatoes:
- 500 g baby potatoes
- knob of butter
- 5 g dill finely chopped
- Boil potatoes until tender. Then drain, add a knob of butter and fresh chopped dill and shake the pan to cover the potatoes in dill butter.
- Hard boil the eggs. It will take about 12 minutes in boiling water. Cool the eggs under cold running water in the sink. Peel and slice the eggs into rounds.
- Add the grated beetroot (together with most of the pickling liquid), cucumber, dill and half of the spring onions to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the fridge-cold kefir, season with salt and pepper, and mix. Add the eggs, scatter the remaining spring onions on top and serve with hot boiled potatoes.