While deeply flavored and a little spicier than some borschts, you can control the heat in two ways: add cayenne after the soup has chilled and have a little yogurt handy. It is not super spicy at all...just has a nice little kick. I adapted this recipe from one that appeared in The New York Times.
Spicy Summer Borscht
1 1/2 pounds beets, any color
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup whole-milk yogurt, optional
Chopped fresh chives or green onion tops, sliced (optional)
Peel and slice the beets and put them in a large saucepan. Cover with 8 cups water and add the garlic, shallots, bay leaf, coriander, cloves, cayenne, sugar, vinegar, oil and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the beets are tender. Check the seasoning of the broth. It should be distinctly sweet, sour, peppery and flavorful. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and cayenne if necessary, and freshly ground pepper. Cool slightly.
Remove the bay leaf. Cool slightly, then purée the soup in a blender, in small batches so it doesn't explode all over the place. Strain into a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator or over ice until cold.
Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a splash of vinegar if necessary. Thin with a little water to achieve the correct thickness — like a thin milkshake. To serve, pour into flat soup bowls or even pretty glasses. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and, if desired, fresh chives or chopped green onion tops. You can add a dollop of yogurt and swirl it in. Serves 6.