Soup is a liquid or semi-liquid dish used as an appetizer before the main course or as a snack. There are several varieties of soups, depending on the way they are made: clear (bouillon), filled, cream soups, and some others. There are also hot and cold soups, depending on their temperature upon consumption.
The history of soup goes back to ancient times when humans started making pots out of clay, which made it possible to boil water. Obviously, people soon discoved that boiling meat and vegetables in water gives some foods a different and even more desirable taste. Soups became particularly popular in France in the 16th century, when street vendors touted them as a meal for a quick restoration of energy. That’s where the name “restaurant” came from as the first public food companies began serving soups.
Every national cuisine has its own traditional kinds of soup. In Russia, people are used to filled soups that are based on rich broth with the addition of various vegetables. Broth is usually prepared from beef with a bone in it, or chicken or fish. The oldest Russian soups are shchi, ukha and rassolnik.
Ukha is a fish soup. Nowadays, it is mainly cooked when people are on a fishing trip, where it is made on a fire with the fresh caught fish. For making rich broth, small low-grade fish are boiled for several hours and discarded. Then, the more valuable fish are added together with potatoes, onions, semolina or other grains and spices. The ukha comes out incredibly delicious.
Shchi is a soup in which vegetables are placed raw, without preliminary frying. The typically sour taste of shchi derives from the natural acidic vegetables it is made of, such as cabbage or sorrel. In ancient times, shchi was one of the few meals available to Russian people and, therefore, so important that it was immortalized in Russian folklore. A very old Russian proverb says: “Shchi and kasha are our food”.
An essential ingredient of rassolnik (pickle soup) are pickles, which are responsible for its name and give it a distinctive taste. Potatoes and cereal are also added.
Solyanka combines the characteristics of shchi and rassolnik, but includes additional products and, therefore, has its own unique taste. This soup is based on rich broth with added smoked meat, pickles, vegetables and hot spices. Most of the ingredients of solyanka are previously fried, so the soup is high in calories.
Borsch is especially popular in Russia. It was originally borrowed from Ukrainian cuisine. An essential component of borscht is beets which give it its red color and distinctive flavor. Besides beets, borscht ingredients include tomatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, potatoes and spices. The peculiarity of borscht is that it improves its taste after being stored in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Then it is heated up and served with chopped greens and sour cream.
Russian people also like kharcho soup , which came from Georgian cuisine many years ago. The essential components of the soup are beef, sun-dried plum puree and grated walnuts, which are responsible for its distinctive taste. Tomato paste, rice and spices could also be added to a harcho soup.
If you love Russian cuisine, or just want to get to know it, you should start with the soups, a large selection of which can be found at Store.RussianFoods.com. There is nothing better to begin your lunch with than a bowl of fragrant and delicious Russian soup. Bon appetite!