Soup has always played an important role in the traditional Russian meal. From the quintessential borscht to the popular Kvass, there are seven distinct types of Soup offered in Russia. Chilled soups with a kvass base, light water based soups, noodle soups, thick meaty stews, and fish soups such as the ukha. Today we will separate the soups based on how the served, both hot and cold.
Cold Russian Soups
While Kvass itself is not a soup it is an essential ingredient in many Russian dishes. Kvass is a fermented beverage made from rye bread with relatively low alcohol content. Kvass can be consumed on its own and is even considered a “soft-drink” to the Vodka loving Russians. It is used in Okroshka, Botvinya, Cold Borscht, and Tyurya.
A classic cold soup found in Russia and Ukraine, Okroshka is a mix of raw vegetables like cucumbers and spring onions, boiled potatoes, eggs and a cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausage or ham. The ingredients are then mixed with Kvass and typically garnished with sour cream, a practice almost exclusive to Russia. Okroshka is always served cold and is enjoyed in the hot summer months as a refreshing starter.
Another cold soup, Botvinya is based on sour Kvass with a beet based broth. The basic version of Botvinya requires boiled red fish, a somewhat expensive ingredient which has led to a decline in the dish’s popularity. Traditionally, ice cubes are served with Botvinya so it can be repeatedly cooled throughout the meal.
Hot Russian Soups
While most people don’t know much about Russian cuisine chances are they have heard of Borscht. Borscht is a hearty soup typically made with beef or pork broth, and flavored with beets and potatoes. Borscht can be eaten as a meal in itself but it can also be served as a starter with Rye bread. Sometimes served with fish, pork or beef, Borscht is the meal your Russian grandmother knows how to make by heart.
The quintessential first course in Russian cuisine for over a thousand years, Shchi is a hot cabbage based soup that transcends social class boundaries. The dish is so prolific that has a place in several Russian proverbs about frugality and family life. A traditional rich variant of Shchi includes cabbage, dark meat, carrots, basil, and parsley, spicy herbs such as dill, and sour component like Smetana (sour cream) or sauerkraut. Shchi is a yummy stew that can be enjoyed year round.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Ukha, a light watery fish soup. Almost always served as a starter Ukha is a delicious way to begin a meal, Ukha is served with potatoes and small amount of vegetables. Freshwater fish is traditionally used in Ukha.
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