Šaltibarščiai-Lithuanian Summer Soup
It’s pretty obvious that I am quite biased to Italian cuisine. And by pretty obvious I mean I’m pretty sure I’ve stated it more than once, or five times for that matter. The simplicity of dishes like pizza and pasta make them hard for anybody to dislike. Especially children. If I kept a food diary growing up and someone went back and read up on my normal culinary routines, they would automatically assume I came from a strictly Italian household (of course, one that has been influenced also by being living in North America). But this is not the case. On the contrary, my mother’s maiden name does not end in a vowel, she is actually a Zenkevicius, of Lithuanian decent.
Like every mother that comes to my mind, my mom pushed her foodie preferences aside in order to please her husband and his obsession with having a home-cooked, mama-styled, Italian meal on a daily basis. She took lessons from the queen of my father’s heart (and stomach) herself (my Nonna), and instead only indulged in her own Lithuanian comfort foods on visits to her parents’ house or holiday celebrations hosted by her siblings. Even special occasions held at our house featured Italian cuisine only, regardless of the heritage of our guests. As children, we followed suit with my dad, preferring an Italian meal and pushing away our plates while pursing our lips at the thought of one of those oddly-named, weird coloured dishes my Mociute (grandmother in Lithuanian) would prepare.
However, with age usually comes an increased openness to experimentation with food. So when my mom decided to make her favorite “pink soup” the other day, I did not cringe at the thought, but instead decided to indulge with her. I wasn’t surprised that I was pleased, as the soup was made up of some of my favorite ingredients. Besides, what can be more refreshing than the idea of a hearty, yet cool, soup on a humid summer’s day?
I posted the recipe for those who love to experiment in international cooking and eating as much I do…
(Sorry daddio, I can almost see you shaking your head in disappointment in my mind)
2 cans sliced beets
2 hard boiled and chopped eggs
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced and quatered
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
1 quart buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste
Cut all beet slices into even thinner slivers, and, adding the juice from the beets, combine all the ingredients together. If soup is too thick, you can thin it with milk (butter or regular). Stir well and refrigerate. Stir contents thouroughly before each serving to blend. Serves 2-3 people, several times. Traditonally this cold summer soup is served with warm boiled potatoes on the side.