Okroshka (cold summer soup)

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.

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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)!

kvas vendor

[Image source]

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 😉

Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 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.

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Ugly little bugger 😉

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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! 😉

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2). Drain broth through a colander (discard the shredded beets). Cool in the fridge overnight.

3) Mix diced veggies, eggs, meat, dill.

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Add to broth and refrigerate overnight.

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4) Enjoy with a nice dollop of sour cream!

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Try it! :)

Printable recipe

25 comments to Okroshka (cold summer soup)

  • My friend makes a similar Russian soup but without the beets. The beets add such a pretty color in yours

  • I’ve definitely had something similar :) and i think kerstin’s husband had me try a sip of something like kvas…

  • Yana

    i looovee kvass!!! but you have to be careful about what you buy at a russian store in the us. it tends to be too sugary and doesn’t have the real taste of kvas. when you buy at a russian store, make sure that sugar is the last on the ingredient list and not 1st or 2nd.

    thank you for the recipe,Elena, it looks delicious!!! this is exactly how my mom used to make it too…

    • elina

      Hmm, good to know. Writing this post totally made me want to go out and find a good source :)

      • Oh yeah they sell something bottled and sugary here as well. Stano is forever buying this stuff that I just can’t recognize as kvas :-p Your Okroshka looks great! I”m not a fan of cold soups but it certainly looks very authentic and delicious!

  • Oh the memories of kvas and the reusable mugs…. :) and yet no one ever worried about germs:)

  • I love cold soups in the summer – they’re refreshing but also satisfying and filling! I don’t love beets, but as you said, they contribute color more than flavor to this soup… so I would probably like it :).

  • This is so pretty! And definitely a complete meal in a bowl!

  • This looks great! I saw kvas at a big grocery store in Atlanta, but I’ve never seen it here. Isn’t there a Russian grocer on the B line somewhere near Harvard Street? I wonder if they have it.

  • Apolinaras makes an incredibly similar beet soup, but also puts in pickles and buttermilk!

    And yep, he also enjoys bread soda :)

  • vladimir skok

    I grew up with the pickled beets and buttermilk beet and cucumber variation. I have worked out an approach that is vegetarian, cuts time, increases the beet flavour and tastes ultra Russian. Perfect for hot summer days after work situations. Will post recipe if others would like.

  • I love your header on this blog! And this soup- so pretty- could you keep any of the shredded beets or would they have no flavor at that point? Thanks for linking the recipe!! PS love all the protein in this soup too!

  • This is one of my favorite soups, but we never put meat to it. Also, I love it with buttermilk.

    And you just brought such great memories of growing up and drinking kvas: haven’t had it in ages.

  • Elina

    I LOVE cold borsht. Okroshka to me is with buttermilk too! I am not a big fan of kvas and BTW they have them in Russian stores but I’m sure sugar is the main ingredient. Awesome recipes! And yes….I think our childhood in Russia was awesome…reusable mugs and all! :)

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