Russia: Soup & Salad to Warm the Soul

We’ve been feeling winter’s chill here at our Boston headquarters: days spent in cozy sweaters and boots, drinking hot beverages, and enjoying the pleasures of warm nights indoors with a book. If there’s anywhere in the world that can rival a New England winter, however, it has to be Russia. These recipes from top-rated Russia Revealed Program Director Evgeny Zalberg and PD Jenia Beralinova put a spin on the meat-and-potato dishes you might expect to carry you through the harshest cold snap, though—their soup and salad recipes are hearty alternatives to what we’d normally consider a light pairing.


Solyanka soup

Originally called “Selyanka” to indicate its peasant origins (the name meant “soup cooked mostly in the countryside”), this soup's modern-day moniker denotes saltiness. This soup is also spicy and sour, says Evgeny. Russia is the second-largest consumer of soup after China, slurping up 30 billion portions per year. “For a Russian, soup is not only a symbol of healthy food, but also a symbol of home, emotional comfort and family care. In a way, ‘soup’ is a synonym to ‘civilization,’” he says.

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef, cubed
1/2 lbs. chicken, cubed
1/4 lb. smoked sausage (can be spicy)
Water (to cover)
1/4 lb. ham
2-3 frankfurters (or sausage of your choosing)
2-3 onions, sliced thinly
1 diced pickle
About 10 black olives, pitted
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 lemon, sliced thinly and seeds removed
Dill and/or parsley to taste
Sour cream (optional)


Preparation:

  1. Boil the beef and chicken by adding enough water to cover, and cook until the meat is cooked through (do not overcook). Reserve the cooking liquid. Skim fat off of the top if necessary.
  2. Slice the sausage and frankfurters (if using), and dice the ham and pickles.
  3. Saute the onions in a pan (do not brown), and when they are soft, the tomato paste.
  4. Add all the ingredients (boiled meat, ham, sausage, frankfurters, pickled cucumbers and onions with tomato paste) into the reserved cooking liquid, adding more water to cover if necessary, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the greens about 5 minutes before the end.
  5. As you serve the soup, add a couple of olives and a slice of lemon into each bowl, and add a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Serves:4-6


Salad Olivier (Russian salad)

Jenia says that this is one of Russia’s most popular salads, which is typically called simply “Russian Salad.” Often served at the new year, this dish is in the same tradition as other Russian salads—often comprised of vegetables with a meat or fish for protein, and a lot of mayonnaise. American taste buds may prefer a light touch with the mayonnaise, so feel free to customize.

Ingredients:

1 lb. of bologna
1 can (15 oz.) of sweet peas (can also use frozen or fresh)
3 medium-sized potatoes, boiled
4-5 medium-sized carrots
5-6 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch fresh dill
5-6 brined pickles (do not used pickles made with vinegar)
Ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Mayonnaise, to taste


Preparation:

  1. Dice the bologna, potatoes, carrots, eggs, and pickles into small cubes, and mix in a large bowl.
  2. Chop the green onions and dill finely and mix them with the cubed meat and vegetables.
  3. Drain and rinse the peas (if canned), otherwise thaw/wash them and add them to the bowl.
  4. Mix in mayonnaise to taste—start with a quarter cup and increase as desired. Then season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled.

Serves: 4-6