Loaded with nutritious vegetables, fresh garden herbs, hard boiled eggs, and chicken meat, this Okroshka recipe is hearty yet refreshing and healthy choice for hot summer days.
Okroshka - Russian Cold Soup
Okroshka is a Russian cold soup traditionally made with kvass, a fermented rye beverage. Later versions use milk-based fermented drink called kefir.
This soup is incredibly refreshing on a hot summer's day and surprisingly keeps you well satiated, thanks to a handful of nourishing ingredients.
This healthy summer soup features seasonal vegetables such as radishes, cucumbers, fresh herbs and green onions. Hard-boiled eggs and potatoes give enough sustenance to this seemingly light dish.
Depending on the regional varieties in parts of Eastern Europe, the meat used in Okroshka can range from beef tongue to sausages to fish and bologna sausage.
History of Okroshka
The name "Okroshka" derives from the Russian verb kroshit, which literally means to crumble or chop into small pieces.
But what is the origin of the soup?
It is believed that Okroshka originated on the Volga River by barge haulers. These workers were often given dried fish and kvass for lunch. To make the fish more palpable, they would soak it in kvass.
Over time, this simple lunch was enriched with seasonal ingredients like potatoes, radishes, and cucumbers.
Kvass, kept well with no refrigeration and was refreshing in the heat, provided much needed nutrients and probiotics to these workers. The live bacteria in the kvass feasted on the sugars and left it unsweetened and fizzy, almost beer-like.
In later versions of this cold summer soup, a milk-based fermented drink named kefir replaced kvass.
Is Okroshka healthy?
Okroshka is a deeply nourishing summer soup with many gold star ingredients, not the least of them is kefir.
Traditionally, the meat used in Russian or Ukrainian Okroshka is bologna but there's a better way to make this healthy meal. Instead of processed meat, lean cooked chicken is a better option as are fully cooked grass-fed hot dogs.
The heart of Prepare and Nourish is to provide recipes for deeply nutritious foods that can become staples in modern day kitchen. One of which is kefir, a probiotic-rich cultured dairy drink. Good news is that kefir is readily available in most supermarkets. Just look for plain, unsweetened with full fat content for best flavor.
Another health benefit of Okroshka is the resistant starch in potatoes. Cooked and cooled potatoes are rich in resistant starch, which in short means they are a prebiotic for your probiotics.
These resistant starches resist digestion making its way to the large intestine where it becomes healthy food for the gut bacteria. Every person needs a healthy balance of prebiotics and probitiocs for proper digestion.
The rest of the ingredients are full of their own great health benefits.
Did you Know? Cooked and cooled potatoes release a compound called resistant starch or prebiotics. Prebiotics are essential for proper assimilation of probiotics.
What are the ingredients in Okroshka?
- Vegetables: radishes, cucumbers, and cooked and cooled potatoes are the bulk of this recipe.
- Eggs: hard-boiled eggs not only add extra protein and healthy fats, they are notoriously satiating and work great in any cold summer soup
- Meat: traditionally bologna was the choice of meat in Okroshka. However, there are many other options to keep this soup nourishing. Use leftover meat such as roast chicken. Grass-fed hot dogs, pulled pork, and even canned chicken breast are also great options (but always check ingredients for canned meat!)
- Kefir: look for plain, unsweetened, full fat kefir for best flavor. Other options are buttermilk, thinned yogurt, or even heavily thinned sour cream with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Herbs: fresh herbs such as dill, parsley and green onions add great refreshing flavor.
- Water + Ice Cubes: This is necessary regardless of using kefir or yogurt. What will vary is how much water is necessary for that perfect creamy, yet not too thick texture. Ice cubes are optional but are a great finishing touch to keep the soup extra chilled.
Make it Nutrient-Dense: Kefir, cooled potatoes, eggs from pastured hens, and lean chicken breast are all nutritious ingredients that comprise this perfect dish.
Suggested Substitutions and Variations
I love that this easy summer recipe is also quite versatile based on what we have at home.
Potatoes: Yukon gold potatoes and russet potatoes are the best in this recipe but I've used red potatoes in a pinch.
Meat: Leftover roast chicken meat is a healthy alternative but grass-fed hot dogs work great too. Organic canned chicken is a great option.
Veggies: Radishes and cucumbers are classic in this dish but feel free to swap turnip or daikon radish for radishes. Any variety of cucumber will work but persian or English cucumber is my favorite in this recipe for their thin skin.
Kefir-water "soup base": Okroshka with buttermilk works great too but you can also create a thick, creamy consistency of enough unflavored yogurt or sour cream and lemon juice. You can also add a little bit of mineral water for that sparkling sensation that fermented beverages offer.
Fresh herbs: any blend of fresh garden dill, spring onions, fresh parsley or fresh basil will work.
Frequently Asked Questions & Tips
The good news is that most all potatoes will work great in Okroshka. My favorite are Yukon gold since they have medium starch and medium moisture content. Yukons are the ultimate workhorse because they are just perfect for this job. Traditionally, I've learned to make Okroshka using russet potatoes but any waxy potatoes like baby potatoes or red potatoes will work.
The Instant Pot is a surprisingly easy way to cook both the potatoes and eggs together. It's best to cook them well in advance and keep them overnight in the refrigerator for easier chopping.
To cook potatoes and eggs in the Instant Pot, follow these steps:
1. Place the potatoes (if using Yukon golds) and eggs (in that order) on the trivet.
2. Pour one cup of water, close the lid, turn the safety valve to Sealing and set the cook time on Manual for 5 minutes.
3. After cook time, allow to naturally pressure release (NPR) for 5 minutes, followed by quick pressure release (QPR).
4. Immediately transfer eggs into ice bath and remove potatoes from the pot.
5. When cool, transfer potatoes and eggs to refrigerator until ready to dice.
Note: if cooking potatoes and eggs together in Instant Pot, make sure potatoes are small-medium otherwise they may need more time or it may be best to cook separately.
With various swaps, you can make this Whole 30, paleo, and low carb.
To make this dairy free to comply with Whole 30 and Paleo, use good quality plant-based yogurt and dilute heavily with water to create a yogurt soup base.
To make Okroshka low-carb, simply omit the potatoes.
Because of the substantial animal products, it would be hard making a vegetarian version of Okroshka without sacrificing flavor, texture, and substance.
Okroshka is a perfect dish to make ahead. That's because you can keep the wet and dry ingredients separate for up to 4 days.
To extend the life of Okroshka even more, add the cucumbers to the bottom of the bowl and do not mix the ingredients together. Or keep the cucumbers separate from the rest of the dry ingredients so they won't release liquid into the rest of the ingredients.
A great benefit is that you can make this healthy meal in phases. Consider the suggestions below for an easy soup that will come together in no time on a hot day.
- Cook the potatoes and eggs well in advance and cool them in the refrigerator.
- Dice up the potatoes, eggs, radishes, and herbs and store in the bowl.
- Chop the cucumbers and keep separate from the rest of the ingredients.
- Mix the kefir soup base and store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to combine all Okroshka ingredients.
Storage and Leftover Instructions
To store: If storing the dry ingredients with no kefir and no cucumbers, it can keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Leftovers: If you have any leftovers that have already been combined together with the kefir soup base, transfer it to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer using wide-mouth Mason jars similar to these for easy storage.
How to make Okroshka
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience.
This Okroshka recipe calls for these ingredients that you will need: potatoes, eggs, radishes, cucumbers, chicken meat or your choice of substitution, fresh dill, spring onions, kefir, water, lemon or lime, and sea salt.
Step 1. Chop all ingredients
Okroshka tastes better when all the ingredients are finely diced in uniform shape and size. It's helpful to have a tool like this chopper to get the job done with little time and effort.
Helpful Tip: It's helpful to boil the potatoes and eggs the day prior and cool it completely in the refrigerator overnight for easier dicing.
Step 2. Prepare the kefir "soup base"
In a ½ gallon jar or a large pitcher, mix 2 quarts of kefir (or buttermilk) with 2 quarts of cold water. Add lemon juice and salt to taste, starting with 1 teaspoon and increasing to your preferences.
You can adjust kefir to water ratio per preference.
If using unflavored yogurt, add more water using a 1:3 ratio. You can always add more water to achieve the desired consistency. Plain yogurt or Greek yogurt will work for this soup recipe.
Note: This step is optional but helpful if you're making Okroshka for the first time. Once you get the hang of it, it's totally acceptable to pour the kefir and water directly into your bowl of chopped ingredients.
Helpful Tip: Making the kefir soup base separately in a jar or pitcher is not necessary but helpful to get a good ratio and consistency.
Step 3: Combine dry and wet ingredients
Pour the yogurt-like soup base over the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
Helpful Tools & Links
Below are some links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store but it helps to have a link so you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, salad chopper
- Ingredients: real salt
- Serving Supplies: ceramic soup tureen, wide-mouth mason jars for leftovers,
What to serve with Okroshka
Okroshka is always served cold. The ingredients are light and airy but the potatoes and eggs definitely add substance to this summer soup. The yogurt-like base adds more nutrition and your choice of healthy meat is a great protein source.
You have complete control over the consistency of Okroshka. To thin it out, simply add more chilled water. I personally prefer it a little on the thicker side.
Because of its' well balanced profile, it's not necessary to serve anything else with this refreshing soup but a slice of rye bread and a wedge of fresh lemon can make it a perfect meal.
Looking for more easy summer recipes? Here are some ideas:
- Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Salmon, Asparagus, and Potatoes
- Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Sheet Pan Nachos
- Gluten Free Pasta Salad
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
- ½ pound Yukon gold potatoes, approximately 3 medium-large potatoes cooked and cooled
- 4 eggs hard boiled
- 6 radishes
- 2 Persian cucumbers, or ½ English cucumber
- 2 cups leftover roast chicken meat, or 1 chicken breast see notes for substitutions
- 1 fresh dill bunch
- 6 green onions
- 1 quart kefir or buttermilk see notes for substitutions
- 1 quart cold water
- 1 fresh lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Finely dice potatoes, eggs, radishes, and cucumbers. Cut leftover roast chicken, fresh dill, and green onions. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Combine water and kefir (or your choice of ferment) until desired consistency is reached.
- Pour kefir mixture over vegetables and season to taste if necessary. Squeeze lemon juice.
- It's best to cook potatoes and eggs in advance and allow to chill overnight in the refrigerator for easier dicing.
- Leftover roast chicken meat is best but grass-fed hot dogs and pulled pork also work.
- Buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream can all be swapped for kefir but the water amount will vary. Dilute with water to make the consistency of buttermilk.
- To extend life of Okroshka, don't mix in the kefir-water mixture with the dry ingredients until ready to serve.
- Dry ingredients can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
The information shown is an estimate provided for your convenience by an online calculator. It should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our complete Nutritional Information Disclaimer.
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This post was originally published June 2017 but has since been updated to include helpful information.