Okroshka (Chilled Buttermilk Soup with Herbs)
Classic Russian refreshment.
This take on okroshka, a classic summer soup named after the Russian word kroshit, meaning "to crumble," uses tangy kefir or buttermilk as a base and is filled with heaps of torn fresh herbs. Grated horseradish and spicy mustard add a gentle backnote to the soup. If you can't find quail eggs or don't have the patience to peel them, hard-boil chicken eggs and cut them into quarters.
Featured in: "The Brothers Berezutskiy and the New Russian Cuisine."
- 8 quail eggs
- 2 English cucumbers (1 lb. 11 oz.), 1 julienned, 1 finely grated
- 2 cups loosely packed mixed herbs such as Italian parsley, dill, mint, sorrel, or celery leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 qt. buttermilk or plain kefir
- Kosher salt
- 1-2 tbsp. freshly grated horseradish
- 1-2 tbsp. hot Russian-style mustard
- 10 radishes, julienned
Fill a small bowl with ice water and set it aside. Place the quail eggs in a small pot and add enough cold water just to cover. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil. Boil for 3 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, immediately remove the eggs from the hot water and plunge them into the ice water. Once cool, gently peel. Slice in half, and refrigerate.
Set a fine sieve over a small bowl and add the grated cucumber; press and squeeze to extract ⅔ cup of the juice (discard the solids and any remaining juice).
To a food processor, add the 2 cups mixed herbs and 2 tablespoons cold water; pulse until finely chopped but not liquefied, 20–30 seconds.
In a large bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the reserved cucumber juice, horseradish, and mustard. Stir in the chopped herbs, season the mixture generously with kosher salt, and refrigerate until well chilled.
Divide the remaining cucumber and the radishes between 8 soup bowls. Add the soup, then garnish with the quail eggs and more herbs.