Russian soups offer a multi-pronged approach to therapy. First, you get to enjoy the meditative qualities of peeling, chopping and dicing the veggies. Then with the first spoonful, you let the pleasure hormone dopamine flood your brain. If you’re not big on the chopping part, you can always engage in a therapy session with friends over lunch in a stolovaya and warm up in the process.

Borsch. A Russian classic, this soup is a meal in a dish. I hate beets - one of the key ingredients and also what gives it its distinct red color, but here they’re grated, which makes it hard to distinguish them from the hearty mix of cabbage, carrots and onions used here. Based on beef stock, it’s sometimes thick enough “for a spoon to stand upright.” Expect it to be served with bread and a dollop of sour cream. 

Schi. Think lots of cabbage and other veggies, no beets, vegetarian or stock-based, lots of yummy liquid. My favorite version features sauerkraut instead of regular cabbage, which makes this soup particularly therapeutic after an adventurous night on the town. 

Credit: povarbum
Credit: povarbum

Ukha. This is a fish soup with clear stock and a few carrots floating around. The star here is of course the fish, and the fragrant stock. I like to sprinkle it with chopped parsley and cilantro. Sometimes you can come across Finnish ukha. It’s also a fish soup but usually made with salmon and lots of cream. 

Credit: Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

Rassolnik. The key ingredients here are pickles and pearl barley. From there, it’s whatever’s lingering around the fridge: hotdogs, carrots and onions, potatoes, a half-finished can of tomato paste. If you’re making it yourself, make sure to steep the barley overnight. If you’re ordering it, expect a strong flavor and drink lots of water afterwards. 

Credit: Vostok Photo
Credit: Vostok Photo

Chicken soup. You can’t beat it for its international reputation in fighting colds and other blues. Expect clear, salty broth, carrots and vermicelli noodles. There’s a good chance you mum used to make you something similar. 

Credit: Foodie Advice
Credit: Foodie Advice

PS. Every few months I restock my supply of instant soup-in-a-cup (chicken and tomato). I know it bares no resemblance to the real thing, but you never know when you might need a little therapy.

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