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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Hi everyone! Welcome to Riga, the wonderful capital city of Latvia! We adored our time in this stunning Baltic country, where historic architecture meets modern innovation - with plenty of lush parks and fascinating monuments in between. I really fell in love with Riga's Old Town, especially all of the black cat imagery that originates from the traditional tales of the Cat House!

We found so much to love here in Riga - and one of these top things was the food! In our coming blogs you'll learn about some of the incredible places that we ate vegan here in Riga, as well as our second vegan eat in the city: Kartupeļu pankūkas (Potato pancakes!). But today's focus is a really eye-catching dish, and something that we were very curious about, despite having absolutely no idea what to expect! That's right: it's aukstā zupa!

But wait, what exactly is Aukstā Zupa?

Aukstā Zupa, one of Latvia's most beloved dishes, is in its most simple form, a cold beetroot soup. This dish is known for its vivid pink colour, and is largely only served in the summer, due to the availability of the fresh produce. Though let's face it, in a Baltic winter, you might prefer to eat something warmer anyway!

So what makes aukstā zupa special? Well the truth is, this soup is much more than just cold beetroot. The pink root vegetable is mixed with other ingredients, including cucumber, sometimes potatoes, kefir, dill, spring onions, and sometimes horseradish and vinegar. Generally, the aukstā zupa will be topped with boiled eggs and milk sausage too. Now, don't be fooled - even without the eggs and sausage on top, this dish still isn't vegan due to the kefir, a kind of fermented milk. So while you're in Latvia, if you want to try their famous soup, it takes a fair bit more searching to find a version that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. But you're in luck, as we found one for you!

Where did we try vegan aukstā zupa in Riga?

On our hunt for some fully plant-based aukstā zupa, we headed to Mazā Terapija, a fully vegan restaurant that is super popular among locals and tourists alike. In fact, we loved its vibrant menu, counter packed with plant-based cakes, and friendly service so much that we visited this quaint, wooden exterior restaurant twice during our time in Riga. Though it was their vegan aukstā zupa that caught our eye, there was so much more to love on their menu; check them out on our Top Places to Eat Vegan in Riga blog!

So come on - tell us all about the aukstā zupa! How did it taste?

As we waited for our hearty bowls of aukstā zupa to arrive I became increasingly nervous. If you've read our Aussie Burger blog you'll know why: I really, really dislike beetroot. I'm not sure what it is about this vegetable, but something about it really upsets my tastebuds, so it's not a flavour I generally seek out. However, saying that, I was comforted by the fact that this is a really beloved dish here in Latvia: with such a strong reputation, I was sure that there would be something that even I could love here!

And the first thing that I really could appreciate about the aukstā zupa was its appearance. With that special statement pink colour, this is absolutely a dish that turns heads. I actually don't remember the last time I ate something that was so vividly pink, and that was quite exciting for me. It certainly photographs well, and a photo with a bowl of pink soup is definitely a must-have souvenir from a trip to Latvia! I was also very excited about the tofu chunks of imitation egg that featured on top of the dish. Along with the scattered dill, these made the soup look very appealing, and I was suddenly a lot more eager to try it!

Now, as you might expect, Mike and I had very different opinions of this dish. He really liked the flavours of the dish, which somehow mix a tangy pickled flavour with a more savoury taste, and even a hint of sweetness too. It was cool and creamy, and the grated beetroot added extra texture to this super healthy and surprisingly filling dish. He finished his bowl of aukstā zupa enthusiastically, and even helped me with mine too!

On first taste, I was surprised by the aukstā zupa: it was much more palatable than this beetroot-hater expected: the flavours really worked together to make something that to me was very curious and definitely worth trying while you're in Riga. However ultimately I wasn't so much of a fan, finding the beetroot a little too much for me. If you like beetroot, or if you're ambivalent about it too, you're onto a winner here - and the tofu egg really was fantastic in this dish that looks very special.

How much did the plant-based aukstā zupa cost - and was it worth it?

The vegan aukstā zupa at Mazā Terapija cost €7.20 per bowl: this is approximately £6.22 or $7.59. While we thought that was a little pricey for soup, there is no denying that a lot of hard work has gone into making this Latvian classic completely vegan. And with all of those fresh ingredients, as well as the tofu egg on top, we thought it was a price worth paying to try it!

We really loved our time at Mazā Terapija and highly recommend checking it out while you're in Riga. They have plenty of exciting local and international dishes on their menu, and I dare you to check out the cake counter - I couldn't stop thinking about a sweet treat I spotted there until we returned and I devoured it!

Have you tried vegan aukstā zupa in Latvia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.

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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Riga's sights might make you jump for joy!

Where should I stay?

Riga is a really beautiful city, with plenty of places to stay to suit all tastes and budgets. If you're looking for a hostel atmosphere with a more luxurious feel, check out Blue Bird hostel, where the rooms and amenities are much more bougie than your standard hostel! For a more high octane vibe, The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers offer very sociable accommodation, brightly coloured decor, and a good time for all guests.

Tours & Experiences

If you want to experience the best of Riga, why not join this Riga Old Town walking tour with an expert local guide? With opportunities to try local spirits and hear all about the history that contributed to the incredible city you see before you - and keep an eye out for those black cats!

If that's not for you, check out Riga's most popular tours and activities in the box to the left; from pub crawls to castle visits, there's something for everyone!

Please note that the tours displayed on the left are automatically selected for their popularity by Viator, not chosen or recommended by us. Please check whether any food or drink based tours are suitable for your dietary requirements, and any animal-based experiences are ethical, before booking!

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