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Sarah Kapp is currently studying Russian in Moscow through SRAS and serving an internship with the school as a research assistant, translator, and writer. She holds a BA in Russian Studies and Comparative Literature from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.


Soup po Russkii
Borsch, Okroshka, and Solyanka
By Sarah Kapp

If enjoyed to the fullest, a traditional Russian dinner can be quite the elaborate affair, consisting of up to five different courses. These courses include appetizers (закуски), a first course (первое блюдо), the main course (горячее or второе блюдо), a third course (третье блюдо), which is usually a drink such as compote, juice or tea, after which is served the last course—dessert (десерт).

Soups (супы) are usually given for the first course and depending on the season may be served hot or cold. Even without the other five courses, Russian soups can be quite hearty, making them a satisfying light lunch in themselves. Three traditional soups that every person curious about Russia should try are borsch (борщ), okroshka (окрошка), and solyanka (солянка).

Borsch, the most recognizable of Russian soups, is generally recognized as Ukrainian in origin, but has become part of the culinary heritage of many Eastern and Central European countries. In Russia it most often includes beets (which gives it its striking, deep magenta color), cabbage, and meat. When served, it is garnished with sour cream (сметана) and dill (укроп), which should be mixed in by the eater, turning the soup a light pink color.

As it is one of the most prominent staples in Russian cuisine, hot borsch can be ordered in most Russian cafes and restaurants anytime of the year. However, during the summer months it may also be served cold. Cold borsch has a good amount of sugar added for taste and instead of mixing the sour cream, a dollop is plopped in the middle of the soup and spooned up with the broth and beets, creating a refreshing contrast to the soup's sweetness

Рецепт борщи


2 крупные свёклы
200г свежей или квашеной капусты
1-2 морковки
1-2 луковицы
2 свежих помидора
2л воды.

Способ приготовления:

Овощи мелко нарезать, обжарить на сковороде на сливочном масле, хорошо перемешать. В кипящий воду положить крупно нарезанную свежую капусту и варить 10-15 минут. Затем положить свёклу и другие овощи. Если капуста квашеная, её тушат и кладут в борщ вместе со свёклой. За 10-15 минут до конца варки добавить соль и специи по вкусу. В готовый борщ можно добавить сметану и зелень.

Borsch Recipe


2 large beets
200 g. cabbage or sauerkraut
1-2 carrots
1-2 onions
2 fresh tomatoes
2 liters of water


Cut vegetables into small pieces, fry them in a frying pan with butter, and mix well. In the boiling water put the large chopped fresh cabbage and cook/boil for 10-15 minutes. Then, add the beets and other vegetables. If using sauerkraut, let it stew and add it to the borsch together with the beets. 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking, add salt and spices according to taste. When serving, garnish the soup with sour cream and/or greens (such as dill).

Okroshka, which is always served cold, is perhaps the most distinctive of Russian soups, and for many (especially foreigners) it is an acquired taste. It is almost exclusively served during summer, but it is, of course, always possible to experiment yourself!

Okroshka: soup for a summer's day.The name "kroshka" comes from the word "kroshit'" (крошить) which means to chop into small pieces. Nearly any good Russian chef can tell you that fine chopping is a motif that runs heavily in Russian cooking. All forms of okroshka have ingredients similar to that of Olivier Salad (салат «Оливье»), including cucumbers, onion, and radish. The most common form of okroshka is made with kvass, a slightly fermented drink produced by soaking dark rye bread in water. To this, one may add almost anything. However, be sure not to use overly-sweet kvass. Many Russians will be quick to tell you that it spoils the taste.

Okroshka can also be made with a base of kefir (similar to yogurt, but thinner and more bitter), and methods of preparation vary. Kefir-based okroshka ranges from being prepared with garlic (a recipe usually credited as Central Asian or Turkish in origin) to being prepared with beets (recognized as Baltic in origin). Okroshka soups are usually garnished with sour cream and dill, but other possibilities include a spoonful of vegetable oil, or half of a hard-boiled egg. One might cringe at the thought of a soup made with kvass or kefir, but okroshka is a surprisingly popular dish that is known as a refreshing way to slake one’s thirst and hunger on a hot summer day.

Рецепт окрошки


1,5 л кваса
2 яйца
1 ч. ложка горчицы
1 ст. (без верха) ложка сахара
хрен по вкусу
2 свежих огурца
150-200 г зеленого лука
200 г вареной говядины
120-150 г вареной телятины
100-150 г ветчины
150 г жареной мякоти дичи
200 г жареной или отварной телятины
200 г вареной мякоти рыбы (лучше разных видов)
1/2 стакана сметаны или 4 ст. ложки растительного масла
пучок укропа


Способ приготовления:

Сварить вкрутую яйца, остудить, отделить белки от желтков. Желтки положить в миску, где будет готовиться окрошка, растереть с горчицей, сахаром, солью и хреном (по вкусу) и смешать с половиной стакана кваса. Мясо мелко изрубить и положить в миску с заправкой. Туда же мелко искрошить огурцы, зеленый лук, белки яиц. Влить в миску 2 стакана кваса, хорошо, но осторожно размешать, слить в посуду с плотной крышкой и на 2-3 ч. поставить в холодильник. Перед подачей влить в окрошку оставшийся квас. В тарелку с окрошкой положить ложку сметаны или растительного масла и зелень. Сметану нужно быстро и хорошо помешать, чтобы она не свернулась.

Okroshka Recipe


1.5 liters kvass
2 eggs
1 tsp. mustard
1 level tbsp. sugar
horse-radish (to taste)
2 fresh cucumbers
150-200 g. (1/3-1/2 lb.) green onions
200 g. (no more than ½ lb.) boiled beef
120-150 g. (no more than 1/3 lb) boiled veal
100-150 g. (no more than 1/3 lb) ham
150 g. (1/3 lb) baked chicken (or poultry)
200 g. (no more than 1/2 lb.) baked or boiled veal
200 g. (no more than 1/2 lb.) boiled fish
1/2 cup sour cream or 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
Dill (for garnishing)


Hard-boil the eggs; after they cool, separate the yolks. Place the yolks into the bowl where the okroshka will be prepared. Pound the yolks while adding mustard, sugar, salt and horse-radish (according to taste). Stir in a 1/2 cup of kvass. Finely chop the meat and add it to the bowl with the seasonings. Finely chop the cucumbers, green onions, and egg whites and add to the mix. Pour 2 cups of kvass into the bowl, stirring well but gently. Finally, pour the contents into an air-tight container and refrigerate 2-3 hrs. When serving, add the remaining kvass to the okroshka. Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream, vegetable oil, or dill. If garnishing with sour cream, be sure to mix it in swiftly and thoroughly, so it does not curdle.

Solyanka, a salty meat soup popular in Russia. Photo compliments Sarah Kapp.Another popular soup is solyanka, which possibly originated in the Ukraine in the 17th century. This soup is most often thick with meat and salty. There are other variations of the soup, however, which contain mainly fish, or, for vegetarians, mushrooms. Meat solyanka is the most common, however, and it usually includes an assortment of meats ranging from beef, veal, ham, sausage, to liver. The primary ingredients of all variations include pickled mushrooms or cucumbers, cabbage, and of course sour cream and dill, Russia’s stand-by garnishes. Regardless of how it is made, the most characterizing aspect of solyanka is its saltiness; which might be guessed from it’s name, derived from the Russian "соль," or "salt."  

Despite its sundry list of meats which might deter the more timid of foreign diners, solyanka is quite popular with American students. One SRAS student thoughtfully described the taste as "kind of like pizza…and really good!"

 Рецепт солянки


500 г. костей
200 г. мяса
100 г. вареной ветчины (окорок со шкуркой)
70 г. сосисок
120 г. вареных почек
70 г. куриного мяса
200 г. репчатого лука
100 г. соленых огурцов
180 г. каперсов
80 г. маслин
80 г. томат - пюре
50 г. сливочного масла
черный перец горошком
лавровый лист
100 г. сметаны
зелень петрушки и укропа

Способ приготовления:

Из мяса и костей сварить бульон. В бульон добавить нарезанный соломкой, пассированный с томатом репчатый лук, очищенные и нарезанные кубиками соленые огурцы и варить 4 - 5 минут, затем добавить черный перец горошком, лавровый лист, предварительно отваренные и нарезанные ломтиками толщиной 2-3 мм и длинной 2-2,5 см все мясные продукты, каперсы, немного маслин без косточек. При подаче положить в солянку маслины, сметану, кружок лимона без цедры. Можно сварить солянку на курином бульоне, добавить копченые мяса. Помните: чем больше разновидностей мяса, тем вкуснее будит ваша солянка.



500 g. bones
200 g. meat
100 g. cooked ham (or veal with skin)
70 g. sausage
120 g. cooked kidney
70 g. chicken
200 g. onions
100 g. pickles
180 g. capers
80 g. olives
80 g. tomato paste
50 g. butter
Black pepper kernels
Bay leaf
100 g. sour cream
Parsley and dill


Make broth by boiling the meat and bones. Remove the meat and bones and place to one side. String-cut the onions and fry them in butter (without letting them brown). Add them to the broth along with the tomato paste. Remove the skin from the pickles, slice into cubes, and add to the broth. Cook 4-5 minutes. Add the pepper kernels and bay leaf. Next, add all the various boiled meats, finely sliced into pieces about 2-3 mm thick and 2-2.5 cm long, along with the capers, and a few pitted olives. When serving, add olives, sour cream, and a slice of peeled lemon. You may also cook solyanka with chicken broth and smoked meats instead. But remember: the greater the variety of meat, the tastier your solyanka will be!

Borsch, okroshka, and solyanka can serve as a first course, or a meal in themselves. They can also be eaten in simple meals with black bread (чёрный хлеб), blinchiki (блинчики), or kutaby (кутабы). Kutaby are similar to a quesadilla, and are made with a piece of flat bread folded over and filled with either cheese or fish.

We should also point out, before sending you off to try these yourselves, that there are many variations on these recipes. Just as Americans can debate the best way to cook a turkey or make chili, Russians each have their own family traditions. These particular soups are very conducive to experimentation and alteration, often based on what happens to be in the fridge or at the market on that particular day. Each of these soups has a Lenten (постный) option. The Orthodox refrain from eating meat during lent, so these are basically vegetarian options. In short, once the basic point (beet, cold, or salty) of each soup is understood, there are endless variations and this should encourage experimentation.

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