Skip to main content

Cold Beet Soup (Lithuanian Saltibarsciai)

Saltibarciai (Lithuanian cold beet soup)

Saltibarciai (Lithuanian cold beet soup)

Authentic Lithuanian Recipe

Saltibarsciai (pronounced shal-tee-bars-chay) is an authentic Lithuanian cold beet soup. You will find that this delicious vegetarian soup is usually served from Easter into October. For a light lunch or dinner on a hot summer's day, it is very easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

What I personally like about making this soup during the summer months is that it can be made early in the morning—before the heat of the day sets in.

Several European countries make beet soup, including Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

40 min

1 hour 10 min

6-8 servings

Buttermilk, fresh beets, cucumbers, eggs, chives, fresh dill

Buttermilk, fresh beets, cucumbers, eggs, chives, fresh dill


  • 1 pound (2-3 medium) beets
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled
  • 1/4 cup chives or 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Liquid from boiling beets
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • fresh dill, chopped for garnish
  • dollop of sour cream, to garnish each bowl


  1. Cut off beet tops, trim, peel, and rinse under cold water. In a pot, cover the beets with water and boil for 40 minutes or until cooked.
  2. Hard-boil 2 large eggs.
  3. When beets are cooked, remove them from the water, reserving 2 cups of the liquid. Set aside to cool. Rinse the beets in cold water and cool them by placing them in the refrigerator.
  4. Peel the 2 hard-boiled eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Chop the whites up and set them aside. Chop either chives or scallions and put them into a small bowl with egg yolk and 1/4 tsp. of salt. The salt will help to bring out the onion flavor. Mash the yolks chives or scallions with the salt. Set aside.
  5. Peel 2 cucumbers (removing seeds if you like) and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  6. Once cooled, grate the beets into a bowl. Set aside.
  7. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of the reserved beet liquid with 4 cups of buttermilk. Stir and add 1 cup of sour cream and blend. Add the grated beets, cucumber, and the egg whites and yolk mixture. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  8. When ready to serve, chop up fresh dill and sprinkle it on top of each individual bowl of soup. Additional dollops of sour cream may also be added at this time.
  9. Enjoy!

Tips for Cooking With Beets

  • Beets can stain your skin: Whenever you are preparing beets, you may want to wear plastic kitchen gloves as the beets will stain your skin. I do not like wearing gloves, so what I do after handling beets is simply rub lemon juice on my skin to remove the beet stain.
  • How to tell when beets are cooked: They are cooked when you can easily stick them with a fork or a knife.

Beet Health Benefits

Consuming root vegetables like beets may have limited protective properties against certain cancers (such as colon cancer), birth defects, and heart disease.

They are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory benefits. They are a good source of fiber, which is good for digestion. Some people believe that beets are good for detoxification.

Nutrition Information

In one cup of raw beets, the nutrients along with the daily percentage value are as follows:

  • Folate - 37%
  • Manganese - 22.5%
  • Fiber - 15.2%
  • Potassium - 12.6%
  • Vitamin C - 11.1%
  • Tryptophan - 9.3%
  • Magnesium - 7.8%
  • Iron - 6%
  • Phosphorus - 5.4%
  • Copper - 5%
  • Calories are 58 - 3%

Rate This Recipe

© 2012 Susan Zutautas