The Great Lent is a 40 day spiritual preparation for Pascha (Easter) marked by reflection, personal improvement, repentance and fasting. Much like the Greeks and other Eastern European cultures, Russian Orthodox Christians begin observing Great Lent on “clean Monday”, a time to cleanse and purify everything from the clothes we wear, the pots and pans we cook with and most importantly, our bodies and souls.
Yes, Lent is the time for making auspicious changes. But it doesn’t have to be about complete deprivation. In Slavic tradition, the ritual of fasting for six weeks involves a progressive giving up of certain foods, beginning with meat. Fish, eggs and dairy, as well as olive oil are not allowed after the third week. Without getting into the nitty gritty of the Church rules, we’re helping you navigate through foods you CAN eat and sharing delicious recipes for Russian mushroom soup, cabbage soup and traditional eggplant ikra (veggie spread).
During the Great Lent, mushroom soup is a hearty substitute for meat based soups, like borsht. Foraging for mushrooms is practically a Russian sport. Low in calories, mushrooms are a good source of nutrients commonly found in animal products. Dried, pickled, and canned, mushrooms are preserved and served in many forms during the winter months.
Olga’s Flavor Factory serves up a traditional Russian recipe for a savory mushroom barley soup. Skip the bacon of course, during Lent!
Dried mushrooms can be rehydrated to make vegetable broth, and brined mushrooms served with thinly sliced onions and drizzled with oil make a tasty side dish or appetizer. For the true mushroom connoisseurs, the Wild Cask Mushrooms will be a deliciously wonderful discovery! These wild mushrooms are foraged in ecologically clean regions of Siberia and brined in fine sea salt to preserve the meatiness and natural flavor.