I've tried a new cold, beet soup and I thought I'd share it with you before the weather cools off too much. Does that sound overly optimistic for a desert dweller?

Chlodnik — Google Translate says it something like klav-NEEK. I suspect there are as many versions of this recipe as there are kitchens in Poland. This recipe is based on the soup I had in a restaurant and verbal instructions provided by two Polish friends. I've been asked if this is similar to borscht; my response is that it could be considered a creamy, summer version.

As with any soup recipe, use this as a starting point, adding more of what you like and leaving out or making substitutions for those ingredients you're not so fond of. The color is the most prominent feature of this dish, that some have described as a Polish version of gazpacho. The beets give it a shade of pink that could more rightly be called magenta or fuchsia.

I hope you'll give this soup a try. Just remember to make it early, giving it time to chill. It's light, refreshing, and just a little bit tart. There seems to be something virtuous about adding this often overlooked vegetable to one's diet.

Northwest resident Lois Britton also writes about her culinary adventures at http://FoodLoveLanguage.blogspot.com. Have a question or a food related story to share? Contact her at FoodLoveLanguage@gmail.com.

Cold Beet soup

Ingredients

1 bunch beets, trimmed, peeled, and diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 cup kosher dill pickle brine

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 kosher dill pickle, diced

1/2 bunch radishes, trimmed and diced

1 green onion, sliced

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Directions

Place beets (about 2-1/2 cups) in a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover; add salt. Simmer gently until tender. A rolling boil may cause the soup to lose its bright color. Do not drain. Cool.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill. You're now ready to serve — as is, a little chunky, or process in a blender for a few seconds for a finer consistency.

Garnish with a bit of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkle of dill or chive. Some cooks like to add hard-boiled eggs at this point. They may be thinly slices, quartered lengthwise, or finely diced.

Serves 4-5

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