Russian food is famously heavy, filled with potatoes, mayonnaise, meat, and other delicious but not-too-healthy things. However, not all Russian food is a calorie bomb! There are some dinner dishes which are not only delicious but also very healthy (or at least not too bad for you). If you’re watching your diet but still want to try some traditional Russian dinner food, here are a few dishes to consider ordering at a restaurant or cooking at home:
Борщ (Borsch) – Russian Beet and Beef Soup
This traditional Russian soup may taste indulgent, but it is actually incredibly healthy and good for you, filled with cheap and healthy root vegetables like beets and carrots. It can be served with (low-fat) sour cream or yogurt (or mayonnaise, of course) and a sprinkle of fresh parsley on top. It takes quite a long time to make, but I do recommend making the stock from scratch instead of using store-bought. If you find that the stock is still lacking in flavor for whatever reason, however, don't hesitate to add a bouillon cube to the water.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 beet, peeled and diced or grated
- 1/2 head cabbage, julienned
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1-2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 250g beef soup pieces (or beef on the bone)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Parsley (to taste)
Fill a pot with enough water to cover the meat and let boil for at least 30 minutes. Cook carrots, onions and tomatoes in a pan for 15-20 minutes to concentrate flavor. Add these to the pot. Add the cabbage, potatoes, and beets to the pot as well. Add the bay leaves. Add some minced garlic, if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.
Let cook for approximately 1 hour. Remove bay leaves; check seasoning. The soup tastes best after being chilled and left in the fridge overnight. Borsch will keep for up to a week in a closed container.
Солянка (Solyanka) – Russian Salted Meat Soup
I know what you're thinking: "Another soup?!" Alas, most Russian mains do not lend themselves easily to a low-calorie diet - except the soups. Of course, Russian people also eat steak and roasted chicken, but I'm not going to give you the recipes for those, because they're the exact same as in the West (and I can't cook them myself)!
This soup is full of flavor: sour, spicy, and filling. It can be made with meat, fish, or mushrooms, depending on your dietary preferences. If using meat, note that the whole point of this soup is to create a lot of different flavors, so try using several different kinds of meat, including various smoked sausages.
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 200g pork
- 1 large pickle, diced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 large onion, diced
- 100g black olives, sliced
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
- 200g beef
- 200 g smoked sausage, diced
- Lemon juice (3 tbsp)
Cover the raw meat with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 1-1.5 hours. Then take meat out of the water, slice it and put it back into the boiling pot. Cook onions for 10 minutes in vegetable oil in a hot pan. Add carrots and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add pickles, olives, tomato paste and 2 tbsp water to the pan. Let cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mixture to the pot along with the lemon juice and 3 tbsp of pickle juice. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, then add salt and pepper as desired. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.