Saltibarsciai Lithuanian Pink Soup
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Šaltibarščiai – Lithuanian Cold Beetroot Soup

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Šaltibarščiai is a Lithuanian cold soup made from beetroots, kefir and milk, and served with boiled potatoes. This is a vegan version of the pink soup, made with naturally fermented soy yoghurt and oat milk.

If you’d like to make the traditional version of this cold beet soup, you can still follow this recipe and just use kefir and milk instead of soy yoghurt and oat milk.


I love to travel and try new dishes, discover different ways to prepare already familiar foodstuffs, cook with the local people and explore traditions related to food (among other things), because they often bring people closer together in a way.

And sometimes, the world kitchen comes to you. I have never been in Lithuania, and the closest to Baltic-related food was a bowl of borscht in a small Georgian village on Caucasus. Right. Not too close except, well, the beetroot…

My first encounter with Lithuanian cuisine happened all the way in Norway, while I was living there. Open and straight-forward Croatian savage that I am, I found most of Norwegian people a bit distant, reserved and not that easy to approach at first. I guess that’s why it was no wonder that my first friends there were in fact a Lithuanian couple (and as we came to realize a bit later, Baltics and Balkans actually have a lot in common) – Laura and Tomas, people of many skills, one of my favourites being Laura’s vegan cooking.

After we had shared many talks about food, plant-based cooking and many other topics while the guys were outside smoking, one day she sent me a video of a bowl with what seemed to be pieces of beetroot being mixed with something that looked like yoghurt. A bit confused, i asked if it was a beetroot soup; she said it is a Lithuanian national dish.

I often fall in love with all things pink (yes…). Pink skies, pink sand, pink flowers, fruits, cakes, pink food in general – as long as it is naturally that way. So with this soup, I think it was love at first sight, even before the first spoon.

But the spoon didn’t disappoint either. It was really tasty, fresh and slightly sour, a perfect summer food.

Originally, šaltibarščiai is made with milk and kefir, and often contains eggs. Laura made it with oat yoghurt because it was the best one we could find here.


Also, instead of eggs, you can play with other energy-rich ingredients such as tofu or avocado. Besides the beets, the main fresh ingredients of this soup are cucumber and dill leaves. Combined with slight acidity from the yoghurt, they give this dish great refreshing and cooling properties, and that’s why this is a very common dish in Lithuania during the summer.

In case you thought – nice, but that can’t be a fulfilling meal, Lithuanians are already a step ahead of you: this soup is traditionally served with freshly boiled potatoes on the side.

šaltibarščiai lithuanian pink soup

Ingredients for šaltibarščiai

To make this legendary cold beetroot soup (either vegan or original), you will need only a few natural ingredients:

  • Beetroots – they can be cooked, baked or raw. My personal favourite is using oven-baked beets because they are so sweet and full of flavour;
  • Cucumber – choose a variety with thin skin, or peel it to avoid having chewy chunks in the soup;
  • Dill leaves – for that perfect refreshing aroma;
  • Spring onions – they add great flavour, but I sometimes leave them out if I want the šaltibarščiai to be lighter. Up to your choice!
  • Sea salt or Himalayan salt;
  • Naturally fermented soy yoghurt for a vegan version, or natural kefir if you are going for the traditional version (I like to make my own plant yogurt, using a starter similar to this one);
  • Soy milk or oat milk for the vegan version, or regular milk for the original version – soy and oat milk are some of the best plant-based options because they will not take over with their flavour;
  • Lemon juice – it is a must in the vegan version to add some acidity, because soy yoghurt usually has a very mild taste. If you are making the traditional version (with milk kefir), you can give it a taste and decide if you want some lemon for extra acidity, or if you like how sour the kefir is on its own.
  • Semi-firm or silken tofu for the plant-based version or hard-boiled eggs for the original šaltibarščiai.
šaltibarščiai ingredients
Ingredients for the vegan šaltibarščiai: beets, plant milk, soy yoghurt, lemon juice, dill and cucumber. This time I didn’t use any spring onions, but they are also a usual ingredient for this cold beet soup.

How to make šaltibarščiai

Making this cold beet soup is super easy and takes only about ten minutes (plus cooking the beets in advance).

šaltibarščiai pink beet soup

If you decided to bake the beetroot in the oven, I recommend trying my easy method to make them as juicy and tasty as possible – I described it in this recipe for the best oven-baked sweet potatoes without oil or aluminium foil – and it works great for beets too!

Let the beets cool down before using them in the soup. Chop all the vegetables and dill leaves and put them into a bowl. Add the soy yoghurt or kefir, milk, lemon juice and salt, and mix with a spoon. Let it sit for at least a couple of hours, or overnight for the best flavour.

šaltibarščiai pink beet soup
1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl. 2. Mix to combine. 3. After a few hours in a fridge, all the flavours will be well combined and balanced. The soup will turn bright pink from the beetroot juice – the longer it stays in the fridge, the stronger its colour will be.
šaltibarščiai pink beet soup

Extra tips for making the best šaltibarščiai

This lithuanian cold beet soup is easy to make, but here are a few (optional) tips to make it even better:

  • If you like to ferment stuff at home, I highly recommend making your own soy yoghurt from plain soy milk and starter (you can use a spoonful of active, living soy yoghurt, or starter culture like this one), or homemade milk kefir from raw whole milk – you can easily get active milk kefir grains or dried kefir grains online; active ones are usually easier to start using right away.
  • If you prefer to use store-bought yoghurt or kefir, try to get a naturally fermented one with living cultures to maximise its health benefits, and also for the best flavour!
  • To make the cold beet soup super flavourful and tasty, use fresh and locally grown vegetables if you can.
  • Baked beets are the best for both the flavour and texture. I almost always bake them instead of leaving them raw or cooking them.
  • Making šaltibarščiai a day ahead letting it rest in the fridge will help bring out the flavours even more, and make this cold beet soup extra delicious.

Equipment for making šaltibarščiai

To wait no longer, here is the recipe for the glorious soup. I hope it brings a dash of pink freshness into your summer days!

Yield: 2 portions


Saltibarsciai Pink Soup

Follow this easy recipe to make delicious šaltibarščiai - Lithuanian cold beet soup. This pink soup is refreshing, tasty and made from simple, natural ingredients.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes



  1. Cook the beets, or bake them in an oven.
  2. Cut them into very thin slices. Alternatively, you can coarsely grate them.
  3. Cut the cucumber into small cubes.
  4. Chop the dill and spring onion.
  5. Put everything into a bowl, add plant yoghurt, soy milk, lemon juice and Himalayan salt and mix everything with a spoon.
  6. Let it sit covered for an hour or longer. It would be ideal if you can make it a day ahead, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This will make the flavours more pronounced and the soup even more delicious.
  7. Serve with cooked or steamed potatoes on the side.
  8. You can also add some cubed tofu (instead of hard-boiled eggs that are originally added to šaltibarščiai when it's being served).


  • I baked the beets (with skin) for about an hour at 180 °C to bring out the sweetness and flavour, cooled and peeled them. Another great method for getting super flavourful baked beets is baking them slowly in a covered baking dish. Check out this post where I described how to make delicious and tender oven-baked sweet potatoes - the same method works with beets. 
  • You can also use raw, cooked or steamed beetroots if you prefer.
  • My favourite plant yoghurt option is a plain, natural 2-ingredient soy yoghurt (made only from water, soy and living microorganisms). I can get a great homemade one here in Croatia, but sometimes I like to make my own - either by dissolving a teaspoon of living soy yoghurt or a starter like this one in plain soy milk (soybeans and water, no additives), and leaving it in a warm spot (or, ideally, a yoghurt maker or an instant pot) until it gets thick and yoghurty.
  • When I still used dairy products, I used to make my kefir at home - with whole, unprocessed milk from a local farm and kefir grains. Here in Croatia, people usually share their extra kefir grains for free via a FB group, but nowadays these grains are also available for purchase online - like these active ones or these dried kefir grains. I recommend getting active ones if you can, since they are usually easier to use at the start. 
  • Making your own kefir at home is easy and I highly recommend it! Homemade kefir tastes so much better than the one from the store and is full of health benefits because of the probiotic bacteria it contains. The same goes for homemade plant yoghurt.
  • If you cannot get any kefir or kefir grains or plant-based yoghurt starter, the recipe will work with regular yoghurt or any plant yoghurt too. Just make sure to add some lemon juice because yoghurt is usually less sour than kefir.

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    1. Hi, thank you so much, I am so glad that you like the recipes. This recipe generator that you made looks great, love the idea! Thank you for including my recipe in it 🙂

  1. Thank you for this recipe! It is one of the best versions of saltibarsciai that I tried. My family loves it too. So happy to have discovered your blog, keep up the good work!

    1. Dear Marta, thank you so much for the awesome feedback. I am so glad that you and your family are enjoying this recipe! Hope you have a lovely day 🙂

  2. I’m half Lithuanian and I love saltibarsciai and this is the best recipe I have tried. Thank you so much!

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