Making soup is simple, but there are some who make truly fantastic soup, and my friend Dorata is one of them. She’s been doing my hair for over 20 years, and every time I see her we spend all our time talking about food. Eventually I convinced her to invite me over, and she fed me this brilliant pink chilled beet borscht (and a thick, creamy white borscht too, and peroghies, and croquettes, and crepes…), something you can make by just throwing stuff in, she says. Except that hers somehow comes out tasting unbelievably delicious. I’ve never really appreciated the appeal of cold soup, until I tried Dorata’s on a 30 degree day – it’s like a creamy bowl of salad I just wanted to pick up and drink like a savoury smoothie.
Since the markets are loaded with beets right now, and yet it’s hot enough to still feel like summer, it seemed a good time to make a batch. “Just look it up,” she told me – of course like all good cooks, she follows her instincts rather than a recipe. Most cold borcht is made with tangy buttermilk and sour cream, and I’m a fan of the addition of dill pickles to soup. Beyond the beets (buy them with their greens, if you can, and use them too), the veggies tend to be the crunchy, juicy kind you’d normally see in salads, on sandwiches and crudité platters – snappy cucumbers and peppery radishes. But I imagine you could draw inspiration from your garden and the farmers’ market, or just use what you like.