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Svekolnik (Cold Beet Soup)

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This is a Russian summer favorite, perfect for lunch on a hot afternoon.

6 medium-sized beets
1 lemon, halved
1 large yellow potato, diced
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 hardboiled egg yolk
2 tbsp pickled shredded horseradish
3 pickling cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/3 cup minced dill weed
3/4 lb bologna, diced (optional)
10 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream (optional)

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

– Clean and trim the beets. Take one of the beets, drizzle with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt, wrap in aluminum foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool, peel and dice.

– Peel and shred the remaining five beets.

— Bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and the shredded beets. Squeeze juice from one lemon half. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Take off heat, let cool, and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Strain before serving and discard the shredded beets.

— Combine the egg yolk with a pinch of Kosher salt, the horseradish and the juice of the remaining half of the lemon. Mash until smooth and stir into the soup. Adjust the seasonings

— Add diced potatoes, diced beet, chopped egg and diced bologna (if using) to the soup and serve.

— Serve the cucumbers, scallions, dill and sour cream separately.

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Basic Tomato Salad

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4 medium tomatoes, halved vertically, stems removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced across
2 tbsp thinly sliced purple onion and shallot
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp minced fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, cilantro, or a combination of the three
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
⅓ cup sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

– Slice the tomatoes crosswise into edges with a base about ⅓ inch wide.

– Toss the vegetables together with the herbs, season with salt and pepper, and dress with lemon juice and sunflower oil.

The ingredients can be sliced up to an hour ahead of serving. Cover them and chill in the refrigerator. Once you add salt and dressing, the vegetables will begin to give off their juice, so do it just before serving.