What is Okroshka?

Dill is commonly used to season okroshka.

Okroshka is a chilled vegetable soup that is a facet of Russian and Ukrainian summer cuisine. Traditional okroshka ingredients include cucumber, chives, and boiled eggs, along with boiled potatoes and herbs, usually dill. All ingredients must be chopped and placed in a shallow bowl, then filled with kvass, a rye fermented drink that serves as a broth. Once cooled, the soup is served directly. No cooking is required, although grilled meats or smoked fish are sometimes added.

Boiled eggs are an ingredient in okroshka.

The soup is simple and economical, but it is rarely seen outside of Russia and neighboring Ukraine. It is based on locally available produce and is usually only served when the weather is warm. The crunchiness of the vegetables and the refreshing qualities of kvass make it a favorite for Russian and Ukrainian soups during the sweltering Baltic summers. The density of potatoes and eggs also imparts substance and protein.

Traditional okroshka is made with potatoes.

Cooks often take liberties with their okroshka ingredients, often using whatever is freshest or available. Likewise, all okroshka fall into three main categories: vegetables, meat, or fish. Vegetable variations can contain peppers or beets, for example, and smoked sausage is a common addition to meat versions. Dried and salted fish distinguish the final category. To be traditional, however, all versions must contain at least potatoes, cucumbers, eggs and chives.

Kvass is a central ingredient to older okroshka recipes, but it is increasingly being replaced. During Soviet rule in Russia, access to kvass was often limited. The drink is only slightly alcoholic, but it’s mostly made from fermented black rye – the same rye used in many Russian breads. When the country faced a bread shortage crisis, there was no rye available for kvass production.

See also  What is Boiled Frosting?

Innovative cooks began to replace kefir, a fermented yogurt drink, which lent a similar flavor. Yogurt-based okroshka remained popular even after the rye drink became available again. Many modern Russian and Ukrainian chefs make their soups exclusively from dairy. Kefir is available in many specialty markets around the world, but cooks outside of Russia who want to try the soup and can’t locate the drink can use diluted yogurt for a similar effect.

Garnishes are another way for cooks to make their mark on the okroshka. The soup is usually topped with a dollop of sour cream and also with a pinch of salted dill. Sometimes a sauce made from egg yolks, mustard and horseradish is also mixed.

Leave a Comment