Russians like soups very much. Their consumption is considered very healthy, because soups and stocks are nourishing and good for digestion. Almost all soups are served with smetana, herbs and bread. Ok, let’s admit it, bread is served with almost every dish, it is only dessert that may be eaten without it. The most popular is so-called black bread – bread from rye flour. Oh, it seems we have wandered off course. So, what are the soups that are served for lunch?
Shchi. Shchi and porridge is our native food, as it goes in an old soldier’s saying. Shchi is prepared from simmered pickled or fresh cabbage and other vegetables: carrots, potatoes and onion. To prepare a more nourishing shchi you take meat stock, but vegetable shchi is not any less tasty (usually they are prepared during a fast or in summer, when you don’t want to overload your body with heavy food). Shchi can also be made from nettle - in May - and sorrel – during almost all spring and summer months. Traditionally, shchi is seasoned with smetana, and sometimes a finely chopped garlic clove is added to the soup before serving. Similarly, you can add a hard-boiled egg to the soup.
Borsh – More than anything else borsh resembles shchi with beetroots. The composition is almost identical, but only fresh cabbage is used. Borsh can be prepared from meat stock, and there is a vegetable variant. This dish is originally Ukrainian, but nowadays it is prepared in every household all across the country. A good housewife is supposed to cook Borsh well, since it is quite a painstaking process, especially due to the preparation of beetroots. It is traditionally served with pampushkas (garlic rolls), but few observe this tradition in everyday life.
Chicken soup – Very often this is just chicken stock with noodles, or chicken stock with some vegetables (onion, carrots, parsley root). It is considered a dietary dish, but rather nourishing.
Mushroom soup – Tasty and flavorful, usually it is made from boletus edulis, leccinum versipelle and leccinum scabrum. It is almost impossible to grow these mushrooms at home or on a farm, unlike famous champignons or pleurotus. Their production at an industrial scale is unfeasible due to the vast number of conditions necessary for the colony to survive. They can only be gathered in forests during the period from mid-summer to late autumn. Mushroom soup can be made from champignons, but this is done rarely, usually in winter. Mushroom soups can be classified into two categories: cream soups and vegetable soups with mushrooms. They are nourishing and very tasty.
Okroshka is rather unusual dish. Two extremes are possible: either you will like it at first sight, or it will disgust you. It is a Russian variant of pizza, when they put everything left in the fridge into the dish. The ingredients are finely chopped as they would be for a salad. More often there are different vegetables (potatoes, carrots, radish, etc.), sometimes sausage or meat, and less often – an egg. Finely chopped herbs are always added (green onion, parsley, dill, coriander – just a few or all at once) in large quantities. All this splendor is covered with cold kvas or kefir. Okroshka is considered a summer dish and is served cold.
Having discovered such an amazing dish as Okroshka, we move on to our second course.