Botvinia is an old Russian soup made from leafy greens and beetroot tops, and served cold in Spring and Summer. While traditionally the soup uses kvass, I’ve omitted this ingredient to let the wonderful lemony tang of sorrel shine through. In my mind sorrel and Spring are synonymous. When I still lived in Russia, our family would enjoy an array of sorrel soups come Spring. And it’s unique fresh flavour was a vibrant sign that seasons have changed. Ever since I’ve lived in England, the unique flavour of sorrel soup became a distant memory. But luckily in recent years sorrel began to crop up at farmers market and I could not believe my luck – that inimitable taste, which makes the mouth water, was back in my life!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
PHOTOGRAPHY: LIZZIE MAYSON, FOOD STYLING: TAMARA VOS, PROP STYLING: LOUIE WALLER
400g of sorrel
400g of mixed leafy greens (chard, spinach, beetroot tops)
1 large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp of salt
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
4 tbsp of sour cream of Greek yoghurt
100g of mixed soft herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley), finely chopped
Wash the sorrel, chard, spinach and beet tops and blanch in batches in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Have a bowl of cold water with ice cubes near by. As each batch cooks, take it out of the pot with a sieve and transfer to the ice bowl for 30 seconds or so.
Once the greens have cooled down, drain well and transfer into a food processor together with the cucumbers chunks and minced garlic. Blend together into a smooth puree. Add 2 tsp of salt, give it another pulse and adjust to taste.
To serve to the soup, divide between four bowls, top with two halves of boiled eggs, a dollop of sour cream and generously sprinkle with chopped herbs.
Traditionally botvinia is served with a side of cold poached salmon, so by all means add the fish to your meal but I prefer this soup vegetarian.
Alissa’s first cookbook Salt & Time tells stories of the food of her native Russia and her childhood. It brings her modern interpretation of the rich and wonderful cuisine of Siberia into the Western kitchen, interwoven with intimate discussions on identity, people, place and history.