I absolutely (bli neder) refuse to make cholent in the summer starting the day after Pesach. It’s just too hot to endure the hot plate going round the clock and the inevitable melt-down that implodes after the first bite of the heavy meat. Instead I’ve developed a list of chilled out soups to wake up the sluggish palate that only wants to eat watermelon all summer long. Starting with the first Yom Tov of Pesach lunch, mostly because I absolutely must have some butter on my matzo and partly because after eating an elaborate multi-coursed fleishig meal on Seder night I definitely need something lighter, I’ll serve my Russian Grandma Ida’s recipe for milchig beet borscht. Her family was one of the few Jewish residents of Petrograd aka St Petersburg, aka Leningrad. Her father gained that privilege by working as a gilder in the palace of the czar. She escaped the Bolshevik Revolution by working her way across Europe with her brother in 1916 designing fancy feathered and beaded hats for the milliner trade. This recipe is authentically presented exactly how she served it to us growing up on Chicago’s South Side and to the many yeshiva students who my namesake Great Grandmother Ruchel would invite after standing out on the street corner on Friday night looking for guests back in the “old country.” Does that sound familiar?
Scrub and quarter 5 medium sized beets
Boil them in just enough water to cover
When tender let cool and slip the skins off and chop into ½ inch dice
Save the liquid to which you’ll add ½ cup cider vinegar & 1T salt – chill well
Serve with the following garnishes – sliced hard boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers, a generous dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped green onions. It’s colorful, filling yet refreshing! In the winter you can serve this borscht hot with boiled potatoes for a one dish meal.