Grechka Soup – Russian Buckwheat Soup (and a bit about Japanese Soba)

The fourth try (as for 3rd, pls. see Apple Pandowdy), the recipe of which from St Petersburg, is a Russian dish again. The simple but nutritious buckwheat soup is ideal for winter, so I gave it a try on a chilly, rainy Sunday in late autumn.

buckwheat grains
buckwheat groats

I had learnt from PetersFoodAdventures that buckwheat is a common crop in Eastern Europe, and Russia is one of the largest producer and consumer. Buckwheat is consumed a lot in Japan as well; however, I don’t think I myself have eaten the grains – actually, it’s not a grain but a fruit seed though – or groats themselves (of course cooked ones!) except a tiny amount in buckwheat tea. I might have had some cooked with rice…. Hmmm… I can’t remember.  I like Gallete, a crepe from Brittany, but that is made from the flour.

In Japan, the large amount of buckwheat production/import volume is consumed as Soba. Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat crops, and also refers buckwheat flour noodles, one of the most popular noodle dishes in Japan. For me, to be honest, Udon, thick white wheat flour noodle, is more familiar. There exist many food cultures in Japan, but basically it can be divided roughly into two groups based on regions: Eastern or Western Japan – you can find the most obvious differences in soy sauce or Dashi, soy sauce based broth. I’m not from Soba culture or Soba growing regions in the East, so this might be the reason I hadn’t had the grains themselves??? 😀 Well, it’s just because ground buckwheat products are much more commonly used for dishes in Japan. Actually, the grains cannot always be purchased from any shops, and it was a bit difficult for me to obtain them.

There are many varieties of Soba dishes, and the below in the photos are two of them:

Zaru Soba - chilled buckwheat noodles
Zaru Soba: chilled buckwheat noodles with soya based dipping sauce (above right: Tempura Maitake Mashrooms)

 

Soba - buckwheat noodle soup
Tempura Wakame Soba: buckwheat noodle soup topped with Kakiage (mixed vegetable tempura) and Wakame seaweed

There is another way to enjoy Soba. I mean it’s not the noodles but the hot water in which Soba has been boiled, which is called Sobayu (‘yu‘ means ‘hot water’). Sobayu is sometimes served when you order Zaru Soba (see the photo above) which comes with dipping sauce. After you finish the noodles, you can add some Sobayu to the remaining sauce, and drink it. It is not only tasty but also good for your health.

Buckwheat is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber etc. and very nutritious. Its beneficial effects are to lower blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, and increase liver function.  Lots of the nutrients are dissolved in Sobayu, so you cannot waste the liquid!!

Soba Cha - buckwheat tea
Soba Cha: roasted buckwheat tea – caffeine free – is also good for your health. You would love the toasty flavour!

Oops, sorry for the long introduction. Grechka soup in which the super grains are cooked must be as much nutritious and beneficial as Sobayu.  Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

(for 3-4 servings)

1,250 cc water
250 g chicken breast
1 bay leaf
1 large potato, diced
1/2 carrot, diced
1/2 onion, diced
50 g buckwheat groats
salt and pepper (to taste)
dill, parsely or chervil

Grechka Soup w/ postcards from St Petersburg

Method

  1. Put the chicken breast in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 mins.
  2. Take the chicken out of the pan. Cut the meat into small cubes and set aside.
  3. Add the vegetables and the buckwheat groats into the chicken stock and cook over low heat for 20 mins.
  4. Return the cubed meat to the broth and season salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle into deep bowls and scatter with dill, parsley or chervil.
  6. Bon appetite!

stamps from St Petersburg

I followed the recipe (almost), but halved the quantity of the ingredients as none of my pans are big enough for 2.5 liters water 😦   and added onion, bay leaf and fresh herb.

Thank you so much for the winter recipe, dear Postcrossing friend in Russia! I like the grains very much, so will put in some more next time I cook it. Maybe double? 😀   I will also try Kasha, buckwheat porridge, and Kasha Varnishkes, kasha with farfalle bow-tie pasta I came across while I was browsing the soup on the web.

Grechka Soup w/ bread

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