Great Grandma Sally’s Borscht + Bonus Chilled Cucumber Soup

I love beets. My husband love beets. Every time we eat beets we wonder to ourselves, “Why don’t we eat more beets?”. It’s that rich, earthy, dirt flavor that drives us crazy I guess. Hot, cold, pickled, roasted, raw. Ugh, just shut up and give me some beets already!

We also love soup. I take great pride in my soup making abilities and boast the title (bestowed upon me by Seth) of The Soup Ninja. I can literally make soup out of anything but can’t write a recipe for soup to save my damn life. Because really, how the hell do you even write a recipe for soup?! Just keep adding stuff in random quantities until it tastes good… that’s my motto (which should get you really excited about the soup recipes I am sharing today)!

So between our love of beets and our love of soup, of course one of our favorite ways to eat beets is in borscht! Seth (being lactose intolerant… sad face) prefers clear borscht served hot and I’m a fan of cold, dairy borscht with a big fat dollop of sour cream on top.

Summer Borscht

Last fall I got to dig through my Great Grandma Sally’s recipes and found a recipe for borscht amongst the many other Eastern European/Lithuanian/Probably Jewish dishes she made regularly.

Sally's Borscht Recipe.jpeg

So I find this borscht recipe and I get all excited and then I actually read the thing and can’t help but laugh because it is EXACTLY how I would write a soup recipe. No quantities, vague directions, random additions that may or may not be necessary, and a clear lack of some very important elements… namely, a shit ton of fresh dill.

Unintimidated (and having made borscht, or some hodgepodge version of it before), I set off to re-create Great Gram’s Beet Borscht.

Borscht

Here’s what I did/an example of how bad I am at writing soup recipes:

  • 3 Large Beets w/ stems + greens
  • 1/4 Cup Red Onion cut into large chunks
  • 1 Fat Clove of Fresh Garlic cut into large chunks
  • 1-2 tbsp(ish) Knorr’s “Caldo (Con Sabor) De Pollo” seasoning
  • A shit ton of Fresh Dill
  • Buttermilk to taste (lol)
  • Sour Cream to taste + to serve (lol)

Remove the stems + greens from the beets and wash thoroughly. Cut up.

Wash beets and cut in half or quarters.

Cut red onion into large 1″-2″ chunks + Cut garlic clove into 1/2″ chunks.

Add the beets + stems + greens + onion +garlic to a pot of water and bring to a boil. The water should cover all of the beety goodness by about 2″ it might end up being about 8 cups but I can’t be sure because I paid no attention. You’re basically making the base for a broth while also cooking down the beets.

Boil the beety goodness until the beets are tender (check with a fork). Remove the beets, set aside and peel (the skins should just peel right off). Add a tablespoon or two of chicken or vegetable stock to the pot with the stems, greens, onions, and garlic… this just kicks up the flavor and adds some saltiness. I put “Caldo de Pollo” in every soup I ever make because I am a really good vegetarian.

Stir + strain the broth, reserving all the liquid and discarding the mushy stuff. Bust out your Ninja Blender and add the broth (6-7 cups). Chop up some fresh dill (I swear I use like 1/2 cup of dill… add as much or as little as you want) and add to blender.

Now you get to decide how much buttermilk and sour cream to add. I add probably a cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup sour cream and mostly go by color which I feel is a good way to feel it out. Start off with smaller quantities of dairy and add more to your liking.

Once you have skinned/peeled the beets, Cut up 2 of the beets into small 1/2″ chunks and set aside. Take the remaining beet and cut up into manageable chunks to throw in the blender. Rev that Ninja up and blend until smooth. Remove the liquid beet goodness from blender, add beet chunks and chill to serve.

Borscht Soup Cold Dairy Borscht.jpg

I like to store my borscht in mason jars for easy access so I ration out the 1/2″ chopped beets amongst 4 regular sized mason jars and then top them off with the blender mix.

When it is time to serve I either just drink right from the jar (no joke) or pour into a bowl like a civilized lady and top with sour cream and more dill.


 

Another cold summer soup that I love is chilled cucumber soup. It’s like borscht’s cousin. I’ve been making this stuff for years but don’t have a recipe for it (of course) so I tried my best to make one to share with you but I’m not making any promises here, people.

Chilled Cucumber Soup.JPG

Cold Cucumber Soup

You’ll need:

  • 3.5 Cups Buttermilk
  • 1 Cup Sour cream
  • 1 Small/Medium Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Dill
  • 3 Large Cucumbers
  • 1/2 Medium Sweet Onion (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt

Peel your cucumbers and cut into 2″ chunks (just to be more blender friendly). Cut up your onion and garlic into smaller chunks as well and mince your dill a bit.

Add your peeled cucumber, onion, garlic, and dill to a Ninja blender. Top with buttermilk and sour cream. Blend until smooth.

Add salt to taste and chill to serve.

Cucumber Soup.JPG


 

Summer soups are ideal with crusty bread to dip or nothing at all. I love being able to drink lunch on super hot days and both the borsht and cucumber soups are superbly refreshing ways to have a healthy lunch and not feel like you are going to explode.

If you have some fun summer soups to share I’d love to hear about them! I’ve never made gazpacho so I feel like that will be next on my list of summer soups to explore!

MY FAVORITE MEATLESS MEATLOAF

This meatless “meatloaf” recipe is my go-to meatless main course. It is everything you crave in a meatloaf – a hearty, savory loaf that is perfect with mashed potatoes and your favorite gravy. It somehow manages to achieve a “meaty” flavor and even looks pretty “meaty” when you slice it up + serve it!

I’ve brought this bad boy to family dinners, holidays, and potlocks and usually end up giving out the recipe to at least half the people who try it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve made this loaf and it seems like everytime I whip up the recipe it gets better.

I’m going to be blunt and point out that this is not a very photogenic loaf (or recipe!). It honestly looks like a bowl of… well… puke before it hits the oven. But make it for yourself and then judge- I promise that the flavor is so satisfying you’ll forget what the mixture looked like before baking.

Another note, this is one of those dishes that is always always better the next day when everything gets a chance to firm up and all the flavors really mingle but it’s great right out of the oven too!

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of cottage cheese (full fat is best)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet of onion soup mix
  • 1 generous cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups of corn flakes
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped… about 1/2 cup or more if you love onions)
  • Pepper to taste

You Will Need:

  • A loaf pan (I use my Pryex pan most of the time but one time I made this recipe in my MIL’s Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan and it made the edges of it so crispy!)
  • A Ninja or food processor (I LOVE my Ninja… but we can talk about that later. You can’t really chop your walnuts or onions fine enough by hand so having the help of a chopper machine is definitely the way to go!)
  • An oven… obvs.

Meatless Meatloaf Ingredients Recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prep/ pre-measure all of your ingredients if you are feeling fancy. It sort of helps the mixing process along.

Start by adding your packet of onion soup mix, oil, and eggs to your cottage cheese. Mix all of that yummy stuff up until it basically looks like barf. I’ll add a couple turns of pepper into this wet mix.

Step 1 Meatless Loaf Recipe Vegetarian Meatloaf

Step 2 Vegetarian Meatloaf Cottage Cheese Loaf Meat Free Main Course

Once all of your “wet” ingredients have been mixed up, throw your walnuts into your Ninja or food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped but not mushy. Here is a really appetizing photo for reference of the level of crumb you’re going for.

Step 4 Chopped Walnuts Meatless Walnut Loaf Vegetarian Meatloaf Recipe

I always chop my walnuts first and then chop my onions separately using the same container. If you pulse the two ingredients together it will make the walnuts all wet and they can get soggy. Do your walnuts first, remove them from the chopper machine, then chop up the onions. There’s no need to clean the bowl/container in between… the wetness of the onions actually helps get some of the little bits of walnuts out!

Step 5 Chopped Onions Vegetarian Meatloaf Meatless Meatloaf

After chopping the walnuts + onions add them to the wet mixture and fold in. The only thing left to do now is add the corn flakes! It seems totally counterintuitive but you don’t crush or crumb the corn flakes at all… you just leave them in their full flaky glory and pour/fold them into the wet mix to evenly distribute. The corn flakes are what give this loaf such a great texture so try to keep them intact while mixing. Don’t smush the flakes!

The final mixture is a sort of terrifying chunky savory version of a special k bar but don’t think about that too much… just get it into a well greased loaf pan and pop it in the oven!

Loaf Pan Meatless Meatloaf Vegetarian Loaf

Your loaf will bake for about 60-70 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven when the top is slightly browned and the edges are getting a little crispy. Let your loaf sit for 10 minutes before serving and like I said before… wait until the following day or a few hours after making for optimal loaf-i-ness.

Meatless Meatloaf Vegetarian Meatloaf RecipeMeatless Meatloaf Recipe

I will usually serve this vegetarian loaf with mashed potatoes and green beans – it’s such a comforting meal and it’s so easy to make! We usually keep the ingredients around the house (we buy walnuts in bulk because Seth is a walnut freak) and I stock up on onion soup mix packets – the only ingredient I ever find that I have to run out for is the cottage cheese. The leftovers are delish and can be reheated in the microwave for a few minutes before eating.

I hope you give this vegetarian loaf a try the next time you’re entertaining guests or having a “Meatless Monday”…. just don’t let anyone see the loaf “in progress” since they might wonder whether or not your serving them up a hot dish of upchuck.