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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Okroshka is a traditional cold Russian summer soup that doesn't need to be boiled. It is usually made on hot days when nobody wants to move, let alone cook something serious in the kitchen. This soup contains mostly raw vegetables, boiled eggs, and fermented drink kvas. It makes a quintessential healthy food. This soup is special, and I was not a great fan of it when I was little, but today I was quite satisfied with the outcome. Wanna try something different? Follow me...

What you need:
3-4 quarts kvas (sold in Russian markets).
Buy kvas with less sugars in it.
1.5 finely cut red redishes
1 cup finely cut cucumbers
1 cup finely cut scallions
A few finely cut lettuce leaves (optional)
4 chopped hard-boiled eggs
2 medium potatoes, boiled and cubed
2 tbsp finely cut dill (and other greens of your choice)
1 cup cubed bologna (or other lean prepared meat)
Salt to taste
Preparation time: 1 hour
Feeds 4-6 people.

Gently mix all ingredients except bologna, salt,  and kvas.

Pour kvas into vegetables, and let it brew and absorb aromas for about 15 minutes, then add bologna and salt to taste. Serve with sour cream and more greens.

Back in Russia we had only two types of kvas - sweet and sour, sold only in summer in the streets from huge wheeled jerrycans. One could buy a big  (about 0.5 liter) or a small (0.3 liter) glass mug, and drink it right on the spot (now they sell it in plastic cups!). Usually we bought more in our own jar to enjoy it at home.  The sour kvas was used for okroshka mostly. Today due to its health benefits and popularity  kvass production progressed tremendously. Here in the US you can find different kinds of kvas in Russian markets, but there are no sour kvas for some reason. To save time, ask the store associate to show you kvas for okroshka, usually it says so on the label.
Salt in okroshka is necessary, it somehow balances the sweetness of kvas.
The quantities of ingredients could be different, depending on your preferences. For example, to reduce calories, you can easily omit potatoes or eggs.
The mixture of all ingredients excluding kvas makes a fabulous salad, with sour cream as a dressing. Actually, it's one of my favorite salads.:)

This soup was just what my body needed on a hot and humid day. It charged me so well that I was able to finish my list of dreaded household tasks.

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