Russian Cold Soup – Botvinya

Botvinya is one of the traditional cold Russian soups but it’s not as popular as okroshka. The name of the soup comes from the Russian word botva, which means “leafy tops”. The basic version of botvinya requires adding boiled “red” fish; while eating the soup it is repeatedly cooled by adding some ice cubes into the plate. Botvinya can also be without fish. Recipe adapted from RussiaInfoCenter.

Russian Cold Soup – Botvinya

1/2 quart bread kvass*
1 cup white okroshka kvass**
1/2 cup boiled or canned sorrel
1-2 young beetroots with leaves or Swiss chard
1-2 fresh or half-sour cucumbers
1 lemon ring
1 tbsp. grated horseradish
1/2 tsp. Russian mustard
1/4 cup spring onions
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1/2 lb. salmon or sturgeon and 2 crayfish (optional)

*, ** It can be purchased in the Russian store or use homemade bread kvass.

Boil beetroots until soft. Separately slightly poach beet leaves and sorrel leaves. Measure all the leaves and finely chop with a sharp knife. Never try to grate or grind the leaves, otherwise you will get some sort of a cream soup with a totally different taste!

Supplement the green mass with chopped boiled beetroots, and chopped green onions rubbed with salt.

Blend together the two types of kvass. Peel a lemon and pound the rind with sugar in a cup, add lemon juice, mustard, horseradish, and a little kvass, mix it all and pour into the two-kvass blend.

Pour the kvass blend into the soup body, add finely diced cucumber and leave in a cold place for 15 to 20 minutes – so that the acidity of basis is absorbed into the leafy bulk. In the meantime prepare the fish part of botvinya.

Boil fish in a small amount of salted water with onions, black pepper and a bay leaf 10 minutes. It is unacceptable to use non-boiled salted or smoked fish, because it will not match the sour kvass basis and spoil the taste of this sophisticated dish.

Botvinya is served as the first course, or after hot first course as a liquid appetizer before the roast. It has to be eaten with two spoons and a fork: the first spoon is for soup, the second one for ice cubes, and the fork is for fish slices.

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One Response to “Russian Cold Soup – Botvinya”

  1. […] national beverage, we drink it chilled as is or add to stew and soups (cold, like okroshka or botvinya, or hot, like soup with wild mushrooms). This is easy and most common way to make kvass – with […]

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