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Culinary SOS: Borscht at Warszawa

By Noelle Carter, Los Angeles Times

November 18, 2010

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Dear SOS: My husband and I have been regulars at Warszawa in Santa Monica for years. On hot days, I dream about their cold borscht, which is perfectly balanced and better than anything my grandmother ever made. Is there any way you could find out their recipe for me? Thank you so much!

Susan Hurwitz Arneson

Dear Susan: Warszawa's cold borscht is bright, both in color and flavors, vibrant red beets complemented with the gentle tang of buttermilk and fresh cool flavors of dill and cucumber. It's a simple recipe, but one of the best we've had.

Warszawa's cold borscht

Total time: About 1 hour, plus cooling time for the beets

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Warszawa in Santa Monica.


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1/2 pound red beets, tops and roots trimmed but unpeeled

2 cups buttermilk or yogurt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about half a lemon

2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions, green part only

1 large cucumber, peeled, not seeded, and diced into small pieces

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced crosswise or diced

1. Cook the beets in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Simmer the beets until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the beets and set them aside until cool enough to handle.

2. Peel and grate the beets, saving any liquid produced when grating. You should have at least 1 cup of beets (any extra can be used as a garnish for salads and will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week).

2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup grated beets and reserved liquid, buttermilk, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and salt using a large spatula.

3. One hour before serving, gently stir in the green onions, cucumber, dill and parsley. Cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to marry. This makes a scant 5 cups of soup.

4. Serve each bowl with a sprinkling of dill and slices of hardboiled egg.

Each of 4 servings: 179 calories; 6 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 24 mg cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 1,361 mg sodium.

SOS REQUESTS: Send Culinary SOS requests to noelle.carter@latimes.com or Culinary SOS, Food section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, phone number and city of residence.