Ukha fish soup with Russian vodka

There’s not much to say about Ukha beyond that it is comfort food, at its simplest. Writing a detailed recipe for it would be overkill. The dish takes the form of a simple fish broth created by frying an onion and/or leeks in oil or butter, then adding the fish of choice (almost all freshwater fish can be used including salmon) and boiling with a mix of root vegetables and herbs. 

What is it?

Ukha is a clear fish soup, often served with ice-cold vodka on freezing winter days. This is one of the most traditional of Russian dishes, although less well-known than the ubiquitous Borscht.


Fish: Bream, catfish, pike. Can also wels, ruffe, perch, tench, burbot, sheatfish and other freshwater fish. 

Vegetables: Root vegetables, potatoes, leeks 


Recipe Notes

There are endless recipes, but they all involve creating a soup by frying the leeks and onions, adding water, then boiling the stock with a mix of different types of fish.


Ukha was said to be a favourite dish of Ivan the Terrible. It was often served on fast days celebrated in The Russian Orthdox church. The dish was originally served in the 16th and 17th centuries as a simple flavoured broth, but more elaborate versions were developed to serve more aristocratic tastes.

I tried Ukha for the first time in St Petersburg, Russia’s capital of the north.  The restaurant was on Marata Street (Ulitsa Marata), a busy shopping street off fashionable Nevsky Prospekt. The bowl of Ukha soup was served with a glass of neat vodka.

St Petersburg was built on the Neva river, and is famous for its Hermitage Museum. For more details about the city please click to see my travel website