My wife is Russian. One day recently, she said: “Let’s have Okroshka for supper.” I was left scratching my head. Of course, I had heard of Borscht, but other than that I really didn’t know too many Russian soups. Turns out this one is quite interesting because the soup’s liquid base is Kvass, a uniquely Russian beverage. Kvass is a slightly fermented drink made from dark or black bread. The bread can be found around Budapest at ‘Arbat Orosz Delicates’ or you can try to make it yourself (not recommended).
Okroshka, coming from “kroshit’ – the word means to crumble into small pieces – is a cold summer soup. The ingredients are a mix of chopped fresh raw vegetables, boiled potatoes, meat, hard-boiled eggs, herbs, and of course, Kvass! Okroshka is a moist, chopped salad. You can put almost anything in it. In the recipe below feel free to make your own substitutions. What I have included is a modified version of my wife’s recipe. (Serves 2-4)
Vegetable base: all ingredients are to be diced into small cubes
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs
- 2 medium, boiled yellow potatoes (cooled)
- 4 or 5 medium radishes
- 1 cucumber
- 250-300 g of cooked chicken breast, ham, or bologna (párizsi)
- 1 small red onion; should be chopped finer than the other ingredients
*Basically, except for the onion, all the ingredients should be about equal amounts by volume
- Handful of freshly-chopped dill (kapor)
- Handful of freshly-chopped parsley (petrezselyem)
Mix in a large bowl until you have an even distribution. Spoon into soup bowls then pour in Kvass as if you were pouring milk on cereal.
Traditional items to be added to the soup. All are according to taste
- A pinch or 2 of salt
- A large spoonful of sour cream (tejföl)
- A squeeze of mayonnaise
- A small spoonful of strong horseradish (erős torma)
- A sprinkle of chopped spring onion or chives
- More Kvass!
Stir in all and enjoy a Russian taste of summer.
By Liam Crow.