In this week’s I·ATE Food Term article we present an unusual soup – Okroshka. Okróshka is a cold soup popular in Russia in summer time. The main ingredients include diced raw vegetables, boiled meat, eggs and potatoes. The soup is served with kvas (a popular Russian fermented drink made from black rye) and sour cream.
The name of the soup derives from the Russian verb “kroshitj” which means to crumble into small pieces. Most probably the origin of the soup goes back to medieval times. At that time Russians made a very simple and popular soup mixing kvas with chopped black radish and onions. Over time the soup was enriched with other ingredients.
The authentic Okroshka should be topped with kvas, but nowadays in Russia you can find okroshka with kefir, pure or diluted with mineral water, or airan. Such soup can be called ‘cold soup‘, not Okroshka. While the original recipe did not significantly change over time, the Okroshka may vary slightly across Russia and the recipe was slightly modified during Soviet times. Some ingredients (like particular fish and meat) were not available or hard to find in a regular grocery, so people used regular pork mortadella instead. In those days, mortadella contained about 90% meat, which made it a good alternative to meat. Using mortadella also made the Okroshka easier and faster to cook, and it could be made in a short time as regular salad. Many people in Russia since Soviet era still consider Okroshka with mortadella as the original, despite the fact that all ingredients for the traditional recipe are now widely available.
Russian Okroshka (Servings: 6-7)
500-600g boiled beef (or 300g beef + 300g chicken), medium cubes
4 medium potatoes
5-6 large cucumbers
6-7 radishes, sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped or cut into quarters
1 bunch spring onion, chopped
1 bunch parsley and/or dill, chopped
1 Tbsp sour cream and 1 tsp mustard, per serving
cold kvas (kefir or laban up), 250-300 ml per serving
salt and black pepper to taste
Rye bread, for serving
Wash and rub potatoes. Place unpeeled whole potatoes in a big pan with cold water, bring to boil and cook for 30 minutes or until soft. Let it cool, peel and cut into medium cubes.
Cut cucumbers into medium cubes. If you want to keep the mixture in a fridge for 1-2 days, cut out and discard the cucumber seeds first.
In a large bowl combine meat, vegetables, onion and greens, gently stir. You can add eggs at this step, or later into each plate.
Put some okroshka into a serving plate, add mustard, sour cream, season to taste and give it a good stir. Pour over kvas or kefir. Enjoy!
Written by Anna Yakimovich, study visitor in the area of terminology, master’s degree in “Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts” at the University of Luxembourg.