What did Allen Ginsberg cook up while sweating the days away in his apartment during hot New York City summers? A meal he deemed "Suitable for Summer Dinner": a cold borscht. His recipe has been passed around recently, and thanks to that, you can make it on your own this summer:


Dozen beets cleaned & chopped to bite size salad-size strips. Stems & leaves also chopped like salad lettuce. All boiled together lightly salted to make a bright red soup, with beets now soft—boil an hour or more. Add Sugar & Lemon Juice to make the red liquid sweet & sour like lemonade. Chill 4 gallon(s) of beet liquid, serve with sour cream on table.

  • (2) Boiled small or halved potato on the side (i.e. so hot potatoes don’t heat the cold soup prematurely)
  • (3) Spring salad on table to put into cold red liquid
  • (1) Onions - sliced (spring onions)
  • (2) Tomatoes - sliced bite-sized
  • (3) Lettuce - ditto
  • (4) Cucumbers - ditto
  • (5) a few radishes

And in the man's own handwriting:


It seems Ginsberg was a big soup man, and weeks before he died he had made fish chowder for some friends, which was discovered in his apartment after his death—in this New Yorker piece from 2001, it says "about the only trace of Ginsberg remaining on East Thirteenth Street was the leftover fish chowder." At the time, the loft that housed the Allen Ginsberg Trust still contained two jars of the soup in the freezer—"Bob Rosenthal, Ginsberg's secretary, says that he felt pangs of grief tossing out the poet's dried beans and stale kasha, and just could not bring himself to throw out the soup." [Dangerous Minds via Open Culture]