Beetroot Soup or Beetroot Leaf Soup

Heracleum sphondylium. Illustration from Flora von Deutschland, 1885

Did Vilnius’ nobility only eat gourmet masterpieces every day? Some evidence suggests that one dish prevailed on the tables of all social layers. Everyone liked it – bishops, the nobility and even Barbora Radvilaitė. It is the well-known beetroot soup. But have we tried the one that was usual in those days?

The very first beetroot soup recipes date back to the 17th century – they were written in Lithuanian and found in a notebook belonging to one of Radvilas’ cooks. It says that the soup was enjoyed during the fasting period. The recipe: “Put some beetroot [leaves] in water, add some almond or poppy milk, some flour, mix well and boil…” In fact, their beetroot soup was not only made using the root, as is common today, but also local beetroots from meadows or fermented beetroot leaves. The soup was so popular that Polish people who wanted to mock Lithuanians called them, “the beetroot leaf soup lovers.”

It was thought that this soup had curative powers. The soup was served both hot and cold. But should you like to try some of the cold beetroot soup equivalent, you would be surprised to see its predecessor in your bowl – cold soup. The beetroot leaf soup was served with sour cream, crayfish necks, pieces of veal or turkey, cucumbers and a hard-boiled egg.

Tilto g.
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