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Russia Cuisine


Typical Russian cuisine derives its rich and varied character from the vast and multicultural expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, kvass, beer and vodka. Flavourful soups and stews centred on seasonal or storable produce, fish and meats. This wholly native food remained the staple for the vast majority of Russians well into the 20th century.

Russia's great expansions of territory, influence, and interest during the 16th-18th centuries brought more refined foods and culinary techniques. It was during this period that smoked meats and fish, pastry cooking, salads and green vegetables, chocolate, ice cream, wines, and liquor were imported from abroad. At least for the urban aristocracy and provincial gentry, this opened the doors for the creative integration of these new foodstuffs with traditional Russian dishes. The result is extremely varied in technique, seasoning and combination.

From the time of Catherine the Great, every family of influence imported both the products and personnel – mainly German, Austrian and French – to bring the finest, rarest and most creative foods to their table. This is nowhere more evident than in the exciting, elegant, highly nuanced and decadent repertoire of the Franco-Russian chef. Many of the foods that are considered in the West to be traditionally Russian actually come from the Franco-Russian cuisine of the 18th and 19th centuries, and include such widespread dishes as Veal Orloff, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Kiev and Sharlotka.


Soups have always played an important role in the Russian meal. The traditional stable of soups such as shchi, borscht, ukha, rassolnik, solyanka, botvinya, okroshka, and turya was enlarged in the 18th to 20th centuries by both European and Central Asian staples like clear soups, pureed soups, stews and many others.

Russian soups can be divided into at least 7 large groups:

    • Cold soups based on kvass (fermented mildly alcoholic beverage made from black or rye bread), such as turya, okroshka and botvinya.

    • Light soups and stews based on water and vegetables.

    • Noodle soups with meat, mushrooms and milk.

    • Soups based on cabbage, most prominently Shchi.

    • Thick soups based on meat broth, with a salty-sour base like rassolnik and solyanka.

    • Fish soups such as ukha.

    • Grain- and vegetable-based soups.

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