Whisk the buttermilk in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients. You may add cold water or ice cubes if the soup is too rich or thick for your tastes.
Jurate Senavaityte from Ann Arbor, Michigan, writes: "Saltibarsciai is traditionally made with Kefyras, which is kefir, rather than sour cream or buttermilk. You can find unflavored kefir in health food supermarkets like
Whole Foods. A whole different taste, and the only way to make it! And yes, the
natives serve it with a side of cold boiled potatoes sprinkled with a little bit of
fresh or dried dill - sometimes a dollop of kefyras and a sprinkle of dill on the
top of the soup. Kefir has live biocultures like yogurt which makes this quite a healthy soup. I was
in Lithuania for 2 months last summer and had Saltibarsciai almost every day!
I sviekata! (to your health!)
Brenda Sheriff of Windsor, Ontario, writes: "My family has always made "Lithuanian Cold Beet Soup" but referred to it as just plain "Cold Bortsh". Every spring my daughter Jackie and I get the urge for this wonderful soup and usually by April I have already made it. It is in my fridge freshly made all summer long. We have a bounty of fresh vegetables in Ontario during the summer which makes this soup even better. I make it with sour cream and I boil shredded fresh beets in 4 qts. of water and use the stems chopped and the the leaves chopped too. I let the broth cool down enough to add sour cream and then I combine 2 chopped hard boiled eggs, chopped English (seedless) cucumber and chopped green onion. A liberal sprinkling of fresh dill really enhances this flavour. My maternal grandfather came from Lithuania/Russia and my maternal grandmother from Poland.
My daughter was raised on this soup and can't get enough of it. I have already passed the recipe on to her so that she can carry it on as well. There is nothing better or more nutritious than this soup on a 90 degree summer day."
Alice Cuevas of Marlin, Texas agrees: "We have always used sour cream instead of buttermilk,and fresh lemons or sour salt to give it that extra zing. I'm 2000 miles away from my family and I often call to make sure I'm doing it right. My sister told me pretend that you're making a salad. Chop up your cucumbers, beets, eggs, chives (optional). Whisk together sour cream with the beet juice until well blended, pour over your ingredients, add cool boiled water to make your soup as thick or thin as you like. Add your dill and chill. We do like our boiled potatoes with this dish. I prefer mine cold from the day before sauted in butter and lightly browned with a sprinkle of dill."
Dr. Danis Kastys of Chicago, Illinois, addresses Ms Sheriff's comments on the correct name of the soup: "The Lithuanians also call this soup 'Cold Bortsch' which is what Saltibarsciai means. In Poland it is called "Chlodnik Litewski", which means Lithuanian Cold Soup (no reference to the beets). So the
Lithuanian portion of the name simply designates the soup's origins."