Carusel Tours
17 June 2020

What Soups Cook in Russia on Hot Summer Days?
Russian Alternatives to Gazpacho

Russian cold soups
Photo Natalia Kazantseva

Russian cuisine is very diverse, thanks to its multicultural nature and the vast size of the country, which unites many nations and different climatic zones.

In comparison to other European cuisines, here in Russia we cook many first courses and the most popular are the soups. There are different types of soups. We prepare them from all types of vegetables, or with meat, fish and mushrooms. We believe that eating soup every day is good for your digestive system.

The typical lunch in Russia consists of a soup served as the first dish and different hot dishes with meat, fish or poultry with the garnish of vegetables, pasta, hot cereals or salads as the second. In the end, we drink tea or coffee with a dessert.

The most typical and popular soups are shchi and borscht from different vegetables, ukha from fish and solianka from various types of meat and sausages. However, these soups are served hot, and what do we eat to cool down during the summer heat?
Old Russian summer house
Yes, we have hot weather here too and let us remind you that Russia is a big country with different climate zones. The summer in the south of the country is longer than in the north, but just at the moment when I am writing this post we have +28 degrees Celsius in St. Petersburg!

On days like this our bodies and minds ask for something fresh and light and for this occasion we have summer soups. In some sense, they may remind you of gazpacho, but since historically we have not consumed as many tomatoes, we use other local products in them.

Today we will share with you the recipes of Russian cold soups, try them and diversify your summer menu! Both recipes are basic, you can add on other ingredients to them, and they are also suitable for some vegetarians.
Cold borscht
Cold Borscht Recipe

This dish is so popular that many countries compete with each other for the origin of this culinary heritage.

Many nations of Eastern Europe cook this type of beet soup, it exists in Russia and Ukraine, in Lithuania and Belarus, in Poland and East Prussia (part of Germany).

In Russia, we like borscht so much that we eat it every season and cold in summer.

You need the following ingredients to prepare cold borscht (4 servings):

- 500 gr beets (2 pieces)
- 200 gr potatoes (4 pieces)
- 2 cucumbers
- 4-5 radishes
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice
- spring onion
- dill
- sour cream
- salt, pepper, horseradish to your liking

How to prepare:

1. Peel the beets, place them in 1.5-2 liters of cold water (around 2 glasses per person for serving), add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice and boil until ready (30-40 min).

2. Cook the potatoes (with salt) and hard-boiled eggs separately.

3. Remove the beets from the water. Add salt and a little bit of sugar to the water. Leave the water to cool down.

4. Cut the beets into sticks or use the coarse grater.

5. Cut the potato, cucumber and radishes into sticks.

6. Chop the spring onion and dill. Mix the chopped onion with salt and horseradish.

7. Cut the hard-boiled eggs into circles.

8. Mix the chopped vegetables, add chopped spring onion, dill and pepper to your liking.

To serve, pour the cold beet water into the mixture of vegetables and potatoes.

Decorate the soup with the egg circles.

Lastly, add the spoon of sour cream in your soup and eat it with pleasure!

* This recipe is basic, you can also add chopped cooked meat, fish or other vegetables.
Okroshka with kefir
photo: okroshka with kefir

Okroshka Recipe

Another traditional Russian soup is okroshka. We know about this soup from ancient culinary books, it was mentioned in Domostroi, a set of Russian social and religious rules from the 16th century.

Its name comes from the Russian word "kroshit" which means to chop (in small parts). It is a mixture of vegetables with typical Russian drinks.

I will tell you about 2 most popular versions, that will be ideally refreshing in summer. These are okroshka with kvas, a drink made from dry rye bread, and okroshka with kefir, a fermented dairy product, originating from Caucasus.

You will probably be able to buy kefír and kvas at any Russian store in your country. I also suggest you to buy smetana, Russian sour cream, from there, as we like adding it to most of our soups (apart from ukha).

Here are the ingredients for okroshka:

- 2 cucumbers
- 2-3 hard-boiled eggs
- 10 radishes
- 4 cooked potatoes
- spring onion
- dill
- salt, pepper, horseradish - to your liking
- kvas or kefir – around 1 litre

Okroshka with kvas and smetana
photo: okroshka with kvas and smetana

How to prepare:

1. Boil potatoes and hard-boiled eggs separately.

2. Cut all the vegetables and eggs into cubes or small pieces.

3. Chop the spring onion and dill.

4. Mix all the ingredients, add salt to taste.

When you are ready to serve it, place the mixture of vegetables, eggs and potatoes in the bowls and cover it with cold kvas or kefir.

For the okroshka with kvas, add the spoon of sour cream, one for each serving.

If you prefer spicy, you can add horseradish, mustard or black ground pepper.

So, choose the recipe that you like the most and enjoy your meal!

If you are interested in discovering other recipes and secrets of Russian cuisine, ask us! And we will be pleased to recommend you where to taste Russian cuisine during your next trip to our country!

Text Karina Matveeva
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