Šaltibarščiai – cold beetroot soup, also known as cold borscht or simply ‘the pink soup’ – is a staple of Lithuanian cuisine and particularly popular on hot summer days. As heatwave continues for a second week, retailers are running out of the main ingredients.
The bright pink-coloured soup, served cold with boiled or fried potatoes, is quite easy to make (at least easier than to pronounce: shull-tee-barsh-chay). Kefir, pickled beets, boiled eggs, some spring onion and dill are the main ingredients that are stocked in every supermarket or corner shop.
But this week, as a prolonged heatwave continues unabated, the shops are running out of šaltibarščiai ingredients, as Algis from Panevėžys, Lithuania's fifth city, found out.
“There is no kefir, I can't find any beetroot, things like that,” Algis tells LRT TV. “It is weird that they are out of kefir, I checked several shops.”
Miglė Gruzdenė, a shop owner, confirms that this week she is running out of the main ingredients for the soup. Shoppers clear kefir and pickled beets off the shelves particularly fast after working hours.
“It really happens that, despite anticipating the demand and stocking up, we run out of things towards the end of the day,” Gruzdenė says.
Kefir and beetroot sales spike every summer, two to three times, she says, but this year has been extraordinary. The šaltibarščiai ingredients sell faster than even ice cream.
To cater to šaltibarščiai lovers, many supermarkets offer the soup ready made. The stock usually runs out by noon.