Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Soup and borsch

To Ukrainians Borsch is something special. I think you might insult someone if you just call it a soup. Alex told me 'there is soup and there is Borsch and Borsch is not a soup'. Logic does not apply if you suggest that both are some kind of liquid stuff that you eat with a spoon. I think Borsch is originally Ukrainian and the stuff they traditionally eat in Russia is actually called 'Shchi'. Actually eating both Borsch and soup in general is a big tradition here, I think most Ukrainians eat soup every day and they eat it as a 'starter dish' for some other dish. At lunch time we often eat Borsch but just as often we eat two other kinds of soup (oops, sorry) which I actually sometimes enjoy even more, they are called 'Okroshka' and 'Solyanka'. These soups are quite unique and not like any soup I tried before in Denmark. Okroshka is unique to me because it is a cold soup which is based on the yellowish liquid which is left from the milk when you make cheese (when making cheese you put a drop of a special substance into the milk and it then separates into cottage cheese and the yellowish stuff) - 'сыворотка' in Russian, 'whey' in English. I read that in Russia it is sometimes based on 'Kvas', a special beer-like but non-alcoholic beverage, and sometimes here they cheat and use kefir instead. I think this recipe: http://www.ruscuisine.com/cooking-recipes/index.php/Appetizers/?recipe=487&offset=0 must be quite close to the Okroshka we eat in Kharkov, except it uses buttermilk instead of whey. Solyanka is also quite special to me because it has four or five different kinds of meat among which are kidney and tongue, which I would normally never eat. But in this dish - mixed with the nice combination of olives, fresh lemon, salty pickled cucumber, dill and sour cream - I will gladly eat it.

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