Cooking Recipes > Soups
Preparation of Russian Soups
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It is doubtful whether any kitchen in the world can claim a variety of
soups as large as that known in Russian cooking. Through the centuries
the assoriment of traditional Russian soups has undergone little change
and in the dinner menu the term “first course” still means
soup. The word itself appeared in the Russian vocabulary in the time of
peter the Great when it was used in reference to foreign liquid dishes.
Russian dishes of this type were called pokhlebka. The classification
of traditional Russian soups, as known today, has been traced back to
16th and 17th century annals. And today as in those times they are shchi,
cabbage soup, borshch, beet soup, rassolnik cucumber pickle and brine
soup, rassolnik, cucumber pickle and brine soup, ukha, fresh-water fish
soup; solyanka was originally applied to any food eaten by the peasantry.
Today solyanka denotes a savoury, tart food in which sauerkraut or pickled
cucumbers are one of the main ingredients.
Reinforced soups are made with a meat, fish, mushroom or vegetable stock.
The vegetables used should be pared and cut to conform in size and shape
with the other ingredients. For instance, the roots for a potato soup
with cereal should be finely diced; for a noodle soup they should be cut
in strips. The cabbage for shchi is usually shredded with a knife.
Tomato puree and fesh tomatoes are used in most reinforced soups, but
they are not used in rassolnik green shchi and soups containing sorrel
or spinach. The vegetables will retain their flavour and fragrance if
they are sautéed in a small amount of fat; do not allow them to
The vegetables may be cut in any shape but they must all be of the same
thickness. The more finely to vegetables are cut the more easily the fat
extracts the colouring matter (of carrots in particular) and the aromatic
volatile oils of the onion.
Each vegetable and the tomato puree should be sautéed separately
in vegetable oil or boiled butter. The layer of vegetables in the frying
pan should be not more than 30mm (about 1/6 of an inch) thick, otherwise
they will steam instead of fry and the volatile oils will escape. To preserve
the volatile oils in the sliced onion, it is sufficient to mix it with
the melted fat.
Put the carrots in the pan first and when they are slightly browned add
the onion and mix it with the carrot. In a few minutes add the parsley
or celery. Fry the vegetables stirring from time to time until they are
soft but not brown. The sauerkraut added to shchi will be tastier ifstewed
Pearl barley, peas, beans and lentils, will cook quicker if they are
soaked: soak pearl barley for 2-3 hours and legumes, for 4 to 6 hours.
Do not soak split peas. Pearl barley soup sometimes acquires an unpleasant
bluish colour. To prevent this, cook the pearl barley separately until
nearly done, drain and then add it the soup.
The ingredients must be added to the soup in a definite order so that
they are all done at the same time. The sequence to be observed is given
in the respective recipes. A little pepper, bay leaf or other spices make
some soups more savoury; the taste of other soups is improved by thickening
them with flour.
The thickening is made by rubbing together flour and butter (1 tblsp
flour; 1 tblsp butter). Stir continuously and brown it over a low heat
( 5 to 10 minutes); stir in a little stock and then pour the thickening
into the soup. Cook the soup for another 10 to 15 minutes. Browning of
the flour eliminates the moisture it may contain and also the specific
undersirable flavour and smell of moist flour. For such soups as green
shchi the flour may be browned together with the root vegetables.
The flour and nutritive value of vegetable soups can be improved by adding
milk, cream, sour cream or sour milk. The addition of minced aromatic
herbs will improve the flavour and appearance of the soups. They also
add vitamine C. Since vitamine C is highly volatile, vegetable soups should
be cooked as close as possible to the serving time. Remember that three
hours after cabbage or potato soup have been cooked, only half the original
amount of vitamine C is left.
A two-day supply of soup stock kept in the refrigerator will simplify
soup making, and make it easier to vary your menu. Fresh frozen vegetables
are great time savers in soup making. Pour a little hot sopu stock over
these vegetables and stew them until they are tender. Stir in tomato puree
which has been heated with a little fat; then add the hot stock and bring
to the boil.
Canned soups are also great times savers. By adding them to the soups
stock or combining with canned meat; a tasty meat soup can be made.
A soup can be quickly prepared by using canned meat or fish. Cook all
the ingredients in water until tender, then add the canned meat or fish
and bring to the boil.
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Clear Soups and Broths
The foundation of all clear soups is a broth made of beef, wildfowl or
chicken. The accompaniments, such as rice, eggs, kletski vermicelli and
various vegetables are generally cooked separately and put in the plate
just before service.
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All cream soups are served with white bread croutons browned in the oven
or fried in butter. Pirozhki with a meat or cabbage and egg filling may
be served with meat or vegetable cream soups; rasstegai with a viziga
or fish filling may be served with fish cream soup.
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Milk soups are simple to make. Fresh or canned milk may be used. Use
a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat to avoid burning. Foodstuffs of
vegetable origin cook longer when boiled in milk. To save time, first
cook them in salt water until almost tender then add to the milk.
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Fruit and Berry Soups
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