Ok, yes, I know. You have to turn the oven on to make this soup… Wait, wait, wait, though. Even if you don’t normally like borsht (I don’t) or even beets, this is cool and invigorating. Culled from Amanda Hesser’s authoritative and engaging 2010 NYTimes cookbook, this soup is simple and simply delicious.
The beets proffer their sweet earthiness and body, lemon juice contributes its bright acid, and the cucumber garnish punctuates it all with crunchy freshness. I elected to serve it on the cool side of room temperature, and added diced shrimp. Like the cucumber, they provide a textural counterpoint to the smooth soup and make it a bit more substantial without weighing it down. A good thing, as I really don’t feel like cooking any more than I have to right now.
Either red or yellow beets work well–I’ve used both in different batches this week. The former produces a glorious magenta soup, the latter a brilliant Big Bird yellow. They are equally delicious. Obviously, for vegetarians, omit the shrimp, but do not be tempted to leave out the cucumber. Its sprightly crunch adds a great deal.