What Russia does best? I figured it out. It’s not the literature, ice hockey or bears riding on unicycles. It’s the soup — that warm, steaming, nutritious blend of vegetables, meats and some form of cream. It’s no wonder I can’t get an air fryer here in Novosibirsk — Russians care not for them. Russians just love their slow cookers that can automatically cook these culinary delights of their ancestors.
Its 12 noon. Oh, we’re in Russia — so its 12:00. Across from the largest ballet theatre in the country, from the statue of Lenin and his red army is a dark restaurant/beer pub called Respublica. They do good soup here — if only they opened in the early morning like the soup places in Sydney (they open at 6 in the morning), I’d come here every morning.
Today its cheese soup, thick, creamy, yellow with big mushrooms that look like they came from the Altay mountains. No — I would just like to fantasise that they were picked by some Altay mountain Babushka. Yesterday it was Borscht. Tomorrow — I’ll let the waitress choose — not knowing what will happen is half the fun here in Novosibirsk.
Okay, let’s be specific — what I’ve been writing about here so far are not soups but rather Russian stews. When we say «Soup» in casual conversation in English, we are simply talking about a dish that has water as its main source of ingredients. Technically, these dishes can be broken down into a few categories and you should know them if you are to one day properly describe them to a native speaker from the anglosphere.
Soup: Watery, contains meats, vegetables, herbs.
Stew: Thick gravy like, chunky pieces of meat and vegetables.
Broth: Meat and vegetables are boiled for a very long time, squeezing the juices out of them. These juices are what’s important, often the leftover meat and vegetables aren’t even served.
Bisque: This is a French word that was adopted into English hundreds of years ago. Its a stew — however made with seafood.
Chowder: This is an American specialty today — for many Americans it’s a daily morning ritual. Not a very popular thing in the British-sphere including Australia and New Zealand. Consider it Bisque but much much thicker and creamier. It is also a French word that was adopted.
So let me ask you a question as a native speaker: I heard of this famous Russian dish called Saliankha — is it a soup, stew or broth?