It finally feels like summer around Boston and somehow the warm weather makes everything better. It’s kind of a strange phenomenon because having a desk job I spend most of my day inside… yet I’m still in a better mood all around. Maybe it’s the knowledge that once I’m out it will still be sunny and summery? Maybe.
Anyways, I’m not really here to talk about weather but summer weather is essential for this summer soup. It’s cool and refreshing. It screams summer. This was actually one of the very first recipes I made when I decided to start this blog (last year) but then the weather turned on us and so I patiently waited to share it with you. It’s time guys!
There are many variations to this traditional soup but I believe the original recipe contained kvas, which is a fermented drink made of rye bread. I know it sounds strange! Think of it as a cross between beer and root beer. It’s tangy and slightly carbonated. It’s incredibly popular in the summer in many Soviet countries, with street vendors next to their gigantic “kegs” found on many corners (and lines of thirsty pedestrians surrounding them). If you click on this link to wikipedia, you will see some pretty cool pictures of these vendors going back to the 70’s (I’m certain they were around a lot earlier than that). Chugging one of these babies on a hot summer day is a happy memory for me (there weren’t disposable cups so you drank from a mug they served it in, then washed it with a hose and passed it on to the next guy)!
Before I lose you, though, (since you most likely don’t have a kvas vendor on your street corner) my family’s version of okroshka contains no such thing. I’ve heard of vinegar variations but we use citric acid to add that tang and sourness. You begin by making a “beet broth” (the beets really just add that awesome bright pink color, not much to the taste) and once cooled (preferably overnight) then the usual Russian suspects are added in – boiled potatoes, eggs, fresh diced cucumbers, meat and fresh dill. Everything is refrigerated once again and a day later you have a refreshing soup to enjoy on a hot summer day. Don’t forget to finish it with some sour cream. You know, to make it extra Russian
- 1 beet, shredded
- boiled potatoes, skinned and diced*
- fresh cucumbers, diced*
- eggs, diced*
- meat of choice, cooked and diced (I used a few grass-fed hot dogs which reminded me of the Russian “milk sausage”)*
- salt, sugar, citric acid – all to taste
- fresh dill
- sour cream to finish (optional)
*The amounts really depend on the size of your pot. Diced veggies should fill the pot about half-way. For my 4QT pot, I used 3 medium potatoes, 1 large cucumber and 5 eggs.
Ugly little bugger
1. Fill a large pot with water and add the shredded beets. Once the water boils, add salt to taste. Let boil for about 10 minutes, until the beets release their color into the water. Add citric acid and 1-2T sugar. This should make the broth even brighter. Your broth should have a nice sour and slightly sweet balance. Don’t be afraid to make it slightly “stronger” (ie saltier, sweeter, more sour) than you’d like it “straight up” because the veggies will soak up a lot of it. Don’t go crazy overboard though!
2). Drain broth through a colander (discard the shredded beets). Cool in the fridge overnight.
3) Mix diced veggies, eggs, meat, dill.
Add to broth and refrigerate overnight.
4) Enjoy with a nice dollop of sour cream!