Russian Soups That You Need to Try

Indulge in a Ukrainian-style soup
Indulge in a Ukrainian-style soup | Courtesy of Lindsey Buchanan
Zita Whalley

Soup: it’s the ultimate comfort food. Just as iconic to the Russian cuisine as mayonnaise is, the nation has developed a repertoire of hearty, delicious bowls of liquid goodness. While several of these soups have an ingredient list of unimaginable combinations, take a leap of faith – they work, they really do.


Probably the most iconic Eastern European soup there is, famous for its bright pink colour. Historically, borscht was made by Slavic people from parsnip or hogweed. It was also the poor man’s meal, and idioms tying the soup to austerity have since evolved in several different languages. Across Russia and Europe there are so many different variations of the soup, that arguably, the only real essential ingredients are beets and stock (and the sour cream and dill to serve). Borscht can also be made cold for summer, and easily made vegetarian.



The key ingredient to rassolnik is the pickled cucumber. Even the stock depends on the brine to get that salty, tart tang to it. One of the lighter Russian soups, traditionally pearl barley and kidneys went into the stock with the pickles. Sorrel is also sometimes added for extra sharpness. As pickle juice reserves a special place in the heart of a hungover Russian, this soup is quite often a go-to hangover cure. A vegetarian version is usually on the dinner table during lent.


Perhaps one of the most strangest concotions ever, but also maybe one of the best. Capers (and caper juice), pickled cucumbers (and pickle juice) lemon and olives give this soup a lot of kick. Multiple meats (usually a bit of offal is included, if that is your thing), cabbage, potato and mushrooms fill out the tomato based broth. If that is not enough of an assault on your taste buds, try it with sauerkraut for a next level soup.



Native to the Urals, this is an easy summer soup featuring another odd list of ingredients, that really work. The stock is made of sour cream, mixed with kvass, a fermented rye drink which is another specialty of the region. Cucumbers, meat (usually bologna, a hangover from Soviet times) radishes, dill, cold boiled potatoes and cold boiled eggs are diced up and then the stock is poured over it. Thats it. Done and delicious.

Okroshka soup|© Nikkolo/WikiCommons


Another soup loaded with sour ingredients for a sharp taste that can easily be dulled a little with smetana, or sour cream. The essential ingredient in this soup is cabbage – either as is or fermented that is usually mixed in with leafy greens such as sorrel, nettle and spinach. It dates back to the 9th century and was popular due to its quickness to make and use of cheap, accessible food stuffs. By the 10th century is was a Russian staple and was traditionally eaten with rye bread.



Also a summer soup with a kvass based stock. Beet leaves, sorrel, cucumbers and lemon juice is also added to the stock, making it another astringent soup. An expensive and slightly more laborious dish to make, Botvinya isn’t as common as the other soups on the list, so if you find it on a menu – try it. The soups comes in three parts: broth, fish (usually sturgeon or salmon, poached in a salty brine), and ice cubes. These elements either come separately, adding the fish and ice to the broth as the soup is eaten, or the fish is placed in the broth with chopped ice sprinkled in to cool the dish down.



Another fish based soup, with a clearer, lighter broth than botvinya. As fish is the only essential ingredient here (and lots of it), if you’re vegetarian, you might have to give this one a miss. Traditionally just a fishy stock to accompany hearty pies, ukha has been filled out over the years to include multiple root vegetables to go with the fish already swimming in the broth. Made from freshwater fish, ukha aficionados say salt water fish make for a terrible stock and bream, catfish, perch and burbot are commonly used.


Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.