Cold Beet and Beef Soup (Chlodnik) recipe
It’s been 90 for more days than you can count. And the humidity? Well, we’re way past the bad hair day stage. Who wants to cook? Not me. Time for cold soups.
Cold soups have a lot going for them. They don’t heat an already too-hot kitchen when you get home from work. They can be made ahead and brought out of the fridge for a quick meal with some crusty bread. And they’re fast and easy.
Gazpacho is probably the best known cold soup. And this is a great time of year for it with local tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, and herbs such as basil and cilantro. I like to bulk up my gazpacho to make it a meal all by itself by adding canned beans like black beans or chick peas and corn off the cob, which you can eat raw if it’s fresh and sweet enough.
Another soup we like at our house is cantaloupe soup, which is nothing more than the pureed flesh of the melon with candied ginger, milk and a dusting of nutmeg or cinnamon. You could also make cold soup with other melons like honeydew. Instead of milk you could use non-fat yogurt. Lime and mint are other good seasonings for melon soups.
Getting soup cold enough to eat as soon as it is made can present some challenges. But there are options. One is to make the soup before you leave for work. I don’t normally make things ahead for my Cooking to Beat the Clock meals, but summer is a time to relax the rules a bit. Soups like the Cold Beef and Beef Soup below will still only take about 15 minutes and will be nicely chilled when you arrive home. (Make ahead cold soups can also be cooked, then chilled.)
Another option is to refrigerate all the ingredients before you leave for work, such as the canned beets, capers and cider used in the Cold Beef and Beef Soup. That way the soup will need little or no chilling once it is made. And don’t forget to chill the bowls too. A third option is to put the soup together over a large bowl of crushed ice. If it’s still not cold enough when you finish making it, stick it in the freezer.
When making cold soups remember that cold tends to dull flavors. Thus, you may want to increase the seasonings. In addition, cold soups tend to be lighter than hot soups, particularly in the protein department. Consider adding meat, poultry or seafood if it makes sense. For convenience, buy that protein already cooked from the deli, seafood section, or meat case of your supermarket.
The recipe below is a variation on Chlodnik, an Eastern European soup. It is not normally made with meat but the beef gives it some oomph. You could also use cold pork. Don’t let the thought of beets deter you, even if you’ve hated them since your high school cafeteria days. This soup is delicious. Looks pretty too.
Cold Beet and Beef Soup
Three 15-ounce cans sliced beets
4 teaspoons capers, drained
1 medium cucumber
1 large kosher dill pickle
8 to 10 large sprigs dill, enough for 1/4 cup when chopped
3 tablespoons cider or red wine vinegar
1 pint light sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces cooked roast beef, cut into 2 thick slices
1)Open the cans of beets. Drain one of the cans in a colander over a large mixing bowl and save the juice. Dice enough of the drained beets for 1 cup and put them into a small bowl. Rinse the capers and add half of them to the diced beets. Set this mixture aside.
2)Peel, seed and coarsely chop the cucumber. Coarsely chop the pickle and dill. Grate the lemon zest. Reserve the juice for another use.
3)Put the remaining beets with their juice (along with the saved juice in the large mixing bowl), the remaining capers, the cucumber, pickle, lemon zest, and vinegar in a food processor and puree in two batches.
4)Pour the pureed beet mixture into the large mixing bowl, over a larger bowl of crushed ice if needed to cool down the soup. Stir in the sour cream with a wire whip. Fold in the reserved diced beets and capers. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Cut the beef into small cubes. Fold the beef into the soup and serve with lots of crusty bread or crackers.
Per serving: 333 calories, 23 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 86 mg cholesterol, 1479 mg sodium.