Help making okroshka...
I had this recently in a Russian restaurant. Does anyone have a good recipe for this? I don't think I can get real Kvass-only the sweetened soda variety. I know you can make it with buttermilk or kefir (in lieu of kvass), and I was wondering if anyone has any experience making this.
I cheat and make kvas from bottled concentrate (kontsentrat kvasnogo susla) sold at Russian or Eastern European delis. Definitely avoid the pre-made kvas sold in soda bottles -- it's way too sweet for okroshka and often tastes kind of nasty anyway. The truly ambitious can try making kvas from scratch, which requires rye bread, water, sugar and yeast.
A garnish of floated lemon slices and red currants is especially attractive; some people add a couple of ice cubes to their bowl to keep things nice and cold. The recipe below is based on Anne Volokh's in her "Art of Russian Cuisine". This is a flexible soup and proportions of dairy and kvas as well as the other ingredients can be adjusted to taste.
Chilled Vegetable and Kvas Soup (Okroshka)
1 Tbsp Russian (or Dijon) mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream (or kefir, yogurt or buttermilk -- can add more to taste if using one of these)
6 cups cold kvas
3 kirby (or 1 big hothouse) cucumbers, peeled (seeded if seeds are large) and cut into 1/4" dice
2 medium waxy potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
If using (optional) meat: 1 cup diced boiled beef, or tongue, or frankfurters (or more to taste)
(optional) 15-20 cooked crayfish
3 Tbsps minced fresh dill (or more to taste)
3 Tbsps minced fresh parsley (or more to taste)
2 tsps minced fresh tarragon (or more to taste)
1 cup sliced small radishes
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2-3 HB eggs, sliced
thin lemon slices, fresh red currants for garnish; ice cubes if desired
1. Combine mustard, sugar, salt and dairy in a chilled soup tureen and whisk in 1 cup of the kvas.
2. Add cucumbers, potatoes, and meat or crayfish (if using), gently blend with mustard mixture and refrigerate 1/2 hour (leave remaining kvas in fridge as well).
3. Just before serving, add remaining kvas to tureen along with herbs, radishes and scallions. Taste for seasoning and top with HB egg and lemon slices and a few red currants for garnish and serve in chilled bowls (with a separate bowl of ice cubes on offer, if desired).
I have mostly only had it with kvass (and you are right not to use the sweetened soda variety, the real one adds slightly fizzy/springy and sour aspect). But once I had it made with kefir (plain non-sweetened). The ingredients seemed to be the same "kitchen sink" -- cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, radishes, potatoes, etc. all diced up with dill, spring onion on top (maybe some other herbs). There might have been some ham chopped up in there as well. Eaten well chilled with crunchy veggies still crunchy is really refreshing on hot summer day.