Okroshka is one of the most popular cold summer soups in Slavic culture. The name suggests that ingredients are diced or chopped. Some of them are fresh and crunchy (cucumbers, radishes, scallions, herbs), some are cooked and soft (lean meat/poultry/fish, eggs, neutral tasting vegetables), all of them are lean. To make Okroshka, these ingredients are traditionally mixed with kvass and sometimes dressed with a dollop of sour cream just before serving. It’s a salad-like soup, light, refreshing, and filling at the same time. Every spoon of Okroshka is an entertainment for those who have an appreciation for diverse flavors and textures!
The list and number of ingredients and their proportions for Okroshka are variable. It is easy to adjusts the recipe according to your taste preferences and ingredients availability. Since kvass is not easily available in the U.S., for example, I used to make my Okroshka with a mix of Kefir and sparkling water (1:1). I successfully served it with plain kombucha. Try variations to find your favorite. I like them all, but prefer the one with my homemade kvass.
Any lean proteins are good in Okroshka. They can be boiled or roasted. I often use HEB or Central Market deli meets (lean ham, roastbeef, rotisserie chicken). Fresh water fish (perch, pike-perch, cod, or any other neutral tasting fish) can be considered for this soup.
Even though different vegetables can be used in the mix (potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots), potatoes are number one choice. I prefer less starchy varieties. If available, I pick an assortment of bite-size young potatoes. Among greens and herbs, choose from dill, parsley, chervil, celery, and tarragon. Dill and parsley are a must.
When chopping or dicing ingredients, consider a small dice (1/4″ or 6mm) or brunoise (1/8″ or 3mm). Smaller and equally diced ingredients are more pleasant to eat.
Okroshka is a fun dish to serve at a summer party. Since it includes so many ingredients, you can ask your guests to be in charge of one of them. Cook what needs to be cooked in advance. Make all the chopping and dicing when you get together, while chatting and enjoying each other’s company. Have a choice of sweet and sour liquids to serve Okroshka with, and assortment of garnishes, and everybody can make their own favorite version of soup!
Boil potatoes. Place clean halved potatoes in a pot. Cover them with cold salted water. Bring water to boiling on high heat. Reduce the heat to minimum and simmer for about 20 minutes until cooked. Taste it after first 15 minutes and adjust timing if needed. Strain water and let potatoes cool uncovered to evaporate extra moisture. If cooked in advance, store in covered container refrigerated.
Soft boil eggs. Place eggs in a pot and fill it with cold water. Bring water to boiling on high heat. Reduce the heat to minimum and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain water and fill the pot with ice cold water. Let eggs cool down completely, then shell them carefully. If cooked in advance, store in covered container refrigerated. Slice or chop them before serving.
Wash, deseed, and dice cucumber.
Wash, slice, and dice radishes.
Dice ham. Chop scallions, chives, and greens.
When all the ingredients are ready for serving, you can mix and season them before portioning. Or you can serve them buffet style, so everybody can make their own version of soup. Serve liquid ingredients separately. Garnish with greens and eggs.