I should admit, I am not a fan of Russian cuisine – I find it bland, heavy and lacking flavor. I am not familiar with a lot of Russian food recipes, though I grew up in Moscow. So, I had to look up okroshka recipe myself. It urns out, there are literally hundreds of okroshka variations. For the very least, you need to choose the liquid base: kvass or kefir. But first of all…
What is ‘okroshka’?
Okroshka is a cold Russian soup. One can think of it as a potato salad filled with liquid. Traditionally it is kvass (fermented bread based drink) or kefir (fermented milk based drink). As I mentioned, there are numerous recipes of okroshka. You can make it with boiled beef or beef tongue, chicken breast or ‘poor’ style with the sausage, bologna kind. Some are adding radishes, some use pickles instead of fresh cucumbers. Opinion about what herbs go into the soup also varies, but I’m pretty much sure you’ll find dill in there. Russians love dill – they sprinkle it literally on everything.
I’ve been craving for a nice cold okroshka since about two weeks now as the hot days are setting in. I wanted it kvass based. And, of course the day I was determined to prepare this soup, the nearby store ran out of kvass. Surely, I could have gone for a kefir based okroshka, but I figured there was an awesome opportunity to try something new. Tan based okroshka.
Tan, or doogh, is another dairy fermended drink. Overall, there are a lot of fermented dairy drink in the supermarkets here. Some are thicker, some are thinner, they all use different bacteria for starter culture. I’ve never tried tan before, and I heard it could be used instead of kefir, so… why not?
How to prepare okroshka
The prepping process is very similar to making a potato salad. Boil potatoes and eggs, chop-chop-chop… And then instead of mayo dressing pour over some liquid. As weird as it sounds, it’s actually not bad on a hot sunny day. Especially, if all ingredients are well chilled.
The best is to keep all ingredients approximately same size, I prefer small cubes, but you can go for matchsticks or any other shape. Just pick the size and stick to it. I like the freshness of the veggies and the comfort-like feeling from boiled potatoes and eggs. Most of Russians would prepare okroshka with bologna sausage. But I’m not a fan of processed meats, so I try to use chicken or turkey breast instead. It makes it leaner, cuts down sodium and makes it a healthier alternative.
Do you like could soups in summer? What other summer dishes do you cook?
- 1 large potato
- 1 small chicken breast
- 3 eggs
- 2 small cucumbers
- 5 radishes
- 1-2 green onions
- Small bunch of dill
- 1 l of doogh (tan), or kvass, or kefir
- Wash, but do not peel the potato. Cover with water, bring to boil and let simmer for 20-25 min. until the knife pierces it easily.
- Hard boil the eggs. Cover chicken breast with water and simmer for about 20 minutes until cooked. Let all cooked ingredients cool to room temperature.
- While potato is cooking, chop cucumbers in cubes and radishes in matchsticks. Chop cooled potato, chicken and eggs in cubes. Finely chop the dill and green ontions. Mix all the ingredients, except the liquid in a large bowl with some salt and pepper.
- Scoop some 'salad' in a serving bowl and pour over the liquid until it just covers the rest of ingredients. Serve chilled.