Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


It’s Still Summer: Zupa Letnia

I literally lapped up lunch the other day in my friend Sally’s backyard. She served a cold beet/cucumber soup with buttermilk and dill that was her version of a Polish classic, Zupa Letnia. I’d never tasted it, never heard of it, never knew a root-based cold vegetable soup could be fresh, light and utterly delectable.

miscellaneous August 21

It’s one of those things that sounds . . . interesting. I’m here to tell you that it was so off the chart delicious I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. The beet’s earthiness is transformed into a scarlet dream of a soup. Based on the Polish soup, Zupa Letnia, part of the appeal for me is that Sally put it together in a way that I can relate to. Some of this, some of that, whatever sounds good, put some in. At the heart of the soup, however, are the beets, cucumber, and some buttermilk.

I asked her for a recipe. Trying to remember the how and what was a challenge, but she came up with one. That’s the problem with intuitive cooking. Once in a while you make something worth repeating and if you don’t have it written down there’s no way you’re going to remember the nuances of the process weeks later.

Here it is in all its glory with Sally’s comments italicized. You have to taste it to believe it. And, please, feel free to mess with this all you want – make it your own local, seasonal, summertime soup.

Beet & Cucumber Soup ala Sally L.: miscellaneous August 17

All ingredients for this soup are in season and available locally.

Ingredients: Beets; buttermilk; cucumber; plus, a mix of possibilities that you may add, or not, in various quantities: lemon juice, vinegar, balsamic, potato, fresh dill, tabasco, salt & pepper. Sally also added a little chicken stock which she says she might omit next time.

I boiled about 3 medium beets in salted water until tender, cooled and peeled them.

These went into the blender with about 3 cups of buttermilk. ( My brand was Sunshine, 1% cultured lowfat buttermilk. I loved it because it was not too acidic, but you can adjust for that later if needed.)

Also into the blender:

1 2/3 English cucumber, slightly peeled

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 tsp balsamic syrup

2 small waxed potatoes, cooked, not peeled

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

3 shakes tabasco sauce

Salt & pepper

The little extra things were added to give the soup some depth of taste, as I thought there was a chance it could be a bit bland. But I think you could simplify it if you wanted to share it. For example, I think you could lose all or some of these—the rice wine vinegar, balsamic syrup, potato, lemon juice, and bouillon— ramp up the dill, and add a bit of sugar if needed. The sour cream isn’t necessary, just pretty on top, but I guess it could be yogurt or buttermilk. I considered putting mint in it, which might have been good, too. You see what kind of cook I am. I didn’t put a lot of salt in, but what I did add was really necessary, and the bouillon base was also salty.

(More information about this Polish soup at Zupa Letnia.)

And then she served dessert: Vanilla & Honey Greek Yogurt with fresh berries. All of it, summer bliss. miscellaneous August 25 miscellaneous August 28

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1 Responses »

  1. Hi there,

    So I found your website while searching around for green/organic living sites. I have to say it is pretty awesome, I love the ideas that you have and the recipes are awesome!

    I’m an editor for a new American culture magazine called Culture11 and I just wanted to seek you out personally because I think we have some articles that might interest your site visitors and may even prompt a blog idea. Plus we really want to get sites and people like yours involved in Culture11 so we can create a mass community gathering place online.

    Couple articles we’ve got include on analyzing the new Michael Pollan book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” with a culturally clashing father of conservatism, Edmund Burke. Kind of fascinating the parallel our writer draws.

    Secondly, we’ve got an article by Rod Dreher about Organic Chicken Farmiing — a pretty funny exclusive on this trend. And a piece by called “A Marginal Farm: Urban agriculture builds culture in the San Francisco East Bay” by John Schwenkler.

    These are just a sampling of the types of articles we will be running regularly so I hope you will check it out as we try to integrate our new site into the world of green living. Thanks!


    Ericka Andersen
    Community Editor