Chłodnik – cold beets with buttermilk

An excellent cold soup, originating from Eastern Poland, as interpreted by Elżbieta.IMG_3085

We all believe that the real flavour develops over time, hence you may plan to prepare the soup at least one day ahead and let it sit in the fridge and ripen.  Last minute sprinkle of fresh chopped dill and scallions makes it not only tasty but also pretty…

An important consideration: when you plan to make it in quantities below, and you need to cool or store it in the fridge overnight, make sure you have one large or two smaller containers (altogether perhaps some 6 l) and adequate room in the fridge..

Ingredients for 10-12 people (or only 4, but really dedicated – the soup stores well in the cool fridge and gets better every day):

  • 1 bunch of fresh beets
  • 2  litres of buttermilk,
  • 1 or two 750ml containers of Huslanka or yogourt (or kefir)
  • 2 fresh cucumbers,
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs,
  • 500 g container of sour cream,
  • a bunch of radishes,
  • lemon,
  • lots of green onion,
  • masses of fresh dill,
  • pepper,
  • salt,
  • some 500 ml chicken broth – (or, traditionally, veal stock, if you find it easier)
  • some chicken (or veal)  meat. Somewhat the concept of the chicken meat leftover from cooking the stock (broth) did not suffice – we ended up inserting additional pieces, fried (slow, on the frying pan, basically salt and butter) or some roaster leftovers – whatever you have handy or easier available.  ‘Some’ is , naturally, disputable – we like the ‘meaty’ edition of the soup, so we take about 6 boneless thighs, or perhaps two boneless breasts. It certainly is an option you may disregard —
  • some sensible number of cooked small shrimps (or real craw fish, if available),

The soup is based on fresh beets fresh vegetables, some meat stock and lots of cream or ‘sour milk’ products.  The proportions should be adjusted to individual preference; I like the soup fairly thick, but.. The stock is given mainly for the taste and ‘cook-ability’, so you do not use much of it (1 cup?).   I use Ukrainian ‘Huslanka in place of buttermilk – but natural yoghurt or kefir will do very nicely, too. All the question of taste and thickness you favour.

Here we go:

  1. Cut the meat in pieces (spoonful size or less) and set aside.
  2. Wash 1 bunch of fresh beets discard rotten parts of the leaves, but keep as much of the green stuff as possible.  Cut everything in small pieces (again, think soup.)
  3. Put the beets in a pot, pour the hot stock over it, bring to boil and simmer (DO NOT COVER THE POT) until red beet pieces are soft.
  4. In the meantime, chop into small pieces:
  • 2 fresh cucumbers,
  • a bunch of radishes,
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs,
  • LOTS of green onion,
  • masses of fresh dill, and, if you wish,
  • some sensible number of cooked small shrimps (or real crawfish, if available.

All of this stuff can land in the same big bowl, including chicken.

  1. Now – the beets should be ready and you want to use them when compatibly cool, not before.  Pour the whole thing into the fresh vegetables.
  2. Time for the white stuff: pour in about 1 litre of buttermilk (and/or Huslanka, available in Polish Delicatessen, likely in Ukrainian as well). You need more if the soup is too thick. Experiment.
  3. Add a container of sour cream.
  4. Get all the ingredients together, mix the soup, spice with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Keep covered in the fridge till needed.
  6. Serve with fresh chopped dill.
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