July 01, 1996

Souper Cool

If you come to Russia in summer, you’re almost certain to be offered some okroshka. Don’t be surprised if this offer comes with a chuckle or a meaningful  look. The fact is, your Russian friends are interested in your reaction to this dish. The combination of kvas, meat, smetana and herbs gives it an unusual taste, which, like some types of French cheese, takes some getting used to. But the French are proud of their cheese, just as the Russians are of their okroshka. And so they should be — there’s nothing better than this cold soup on a hot day.

If you like to experiment, then you can also prepare okroshka from sour shchi or cabbage brine, but classic okroshka is made with kvas. 

Kvas is a wonderful drink consumed over the centuries in Russia almost as frequently as water. The early Slavs noted that kvas had many healing properties, and scientists have proved that it helps a lot with, for instance, catarrhal illnesses. But the most ‘popular’ property of kvas is its ability to revive your appetite. That’s why it used to be used as an aperitif.

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