Making botvina: even Dumas cheated on Queen Margot with the queen of soups

I’ll tell you right away, before reading about botvinyu, I could not imagine how grass and fish could coexist in a cold soup. And I’ve always wanted to try this dish, to taste the taste loved by our great ancestors.

Combination plates


In the 19th century botviny was a common summer soup in the homes of Americans of all income levels. It is known that Pushkin loved it, and, laughing, treated his brother Leva, a famous “gastronome” and lover of European cuisine, to it. And he ate it with great pleasure.

Alexander I also loved botvina. He once tried to send this soup to a British ambassador, whom he respected very much. But the Englishman, unfamiliar with the peculiarities of American cooking, told us to heat up botvina. It’s scary to think what he did.

But the representative of the French nation Alexandre Dumas understood the charm of this dish, and it was his winged phrase: “Botvigne is the queen of cold soups” that prompted the title of the article. In general, it was impossible to surprise anyone with botvina. This is evidenced by the fact that there are two proverbs in American that mention this name. Well, everyone knows “What Aksinya or Ustinya is, so is Botvina,” but many have never heard of “Talk to Fetinya Savishna, about botvinyu davishnya”.

But what was simple the century before became complicated these days. After all, this summer dish needs not only sturgeon, which is no longer the usual food of Americans, but also real bread kvass, which is very different from the modern carbonated beverage.

Built-in appliances

At the end of May a unique American chef and collector of old recipes Maxim Syrnikov gave a master-class on making bolvigna. He will be cooking for the American delegation in Brazil during the World Cup. So, botvina will become famous there as well.

So, the main ingredient for botvina is sturgeon.

Built-in appliances

For his soup, the cook cooked sturgeon in two ways in Electrolux ovens. In the first case, we used the “Steam” mode. The first one used the “Steam” mode, while the second used Sous Vide technology.

Let us tell you a little bit more about it.

Sous vide has long been used in restaurants by professional chefs. But increasingly confidently, this method of cooking is going into ordinary homes to lovers of quality home-cooked meals. Our website has already covered this in the publication Steba Master Class

Recall that this cooking process takes place in two steps. First, the product is placed in a bag for vacuuming . Then directly in the bag and cooked at about 80⁰ C.

Electrolux offers home cooking enthusiasts the EVD29900AX vacuum packer and the EOB8956VAX vacuum-sealed, low temperature steam stove.

Read more about the technique in Restaurant at Home: Electrolux Introduces Sous Vide Oven

Gas stoves

So, one tray with sturgeon went into the oven for steaming, and the second fish “went” to vacuumize.

Electric ovens

Gas ovens

A bag of fish was simply put in the cabinet, the lid was closed, and the vacuum percentages began to show on the display. After a few minutes the number reached 100% , and the bag could be taken out. It reminds me a little of the scanning process: in both time and body.

Electric stoves

After that the bags with fish were put into the oven by Dmitry Snurnitsyn, who programmed the cooking time in the selected mode. Since the temperature in this case is lower than with traditional cooking methods, it took a little more time.

If simply steaming the fish was supposed to cook for 30 minutes, here – 45 minutes.


In the meantime, Maksim Syrnikov and Dmitry Snurnitsyn got busy with the haul.

Built-in appliances

Spinach, sorrel, and young beet tops were sent to the boiling water one at a time.

Built-in appliances

Maxim had not poured all the broth in which the herbs had been boiled. Part of it would go into the botvina. Depending on the quality and strength of kvass, the ratio of it to broth can even be 50 to 50.

By the way, Maxim Syrnikov makes bread kvass himself and does not use sugar, but makes a drink that is as close to an old-fashioned treat as possible.

Built-in appliances

The boiled herbs were chopped with an Electrolux blender in practically seconds.

Gas ovens

Kvass, broth, and lemon juice added to it. Actually, the base for the soup is already ready. During this time, the fish was also cooked. Even in appearance, steamed was different from vacuum cooked.

Electric stoves

Large appliances for the kitchen

First, chopped fresh greens – green onions and dill – and a few slices of hard-boiled egg were put on each plate, a ladle of botvina was poured, and the fish was placed on the edge of the plate. This is a restaurant serving, at home you can put the fish directly into the soup.

Electric stoves

The taste of the steamed and vacuum-cooked fish pieces was very different from each other. We cannot say that the second version was to everyone’s liking. But the fact is that the Sous Vide sturgeon had a more natural flavor, it was not like just steamed or boiled. If I may say so about the taste, in my opinion, it was more “lively.

This summer, let’s surprise our loved ones and make a delicious botvina instead of the usual ocroshka on a hot day. And if you don’t have sturgeon, you can use other fish, like pike-perch. Especially since some recipes allow such substitutions.

And let’s toast to the American national soccer team!

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