Traditionally, in Russia, kasha means porridge and can be made from any whole grain or combination of grains. To me, it means buckwheat groats, and kasha varnishkes is buckwheat and noodles, specifically bowtie noodles. Kasha varnishkes is a traditional comfort food brought to America by Russian Jewish immigrants.
Buckwheat is actually the seed of a fruit, not a grain. (You can read all about buckwheat and its possible appropriateness in gluten-free diets here.) It is very nutritious, delicious and quick cooking. Hulled, raw buckwheat is called buckwheat groats, and that's what I'm starting with in this recipe. After it's toasted in oil, it's called kasha. I've never encountered it in a soup before but thought I'd give it a try.
Kasha varnishkes soup
- three medium onions, halved and sliced thin
- two medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, 1/2 inch slices
- two cloves garlic, minced
- four green onions, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- two-three tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup hulled buckwheat groats
- one cup frozen green soybeans (edamame)
- two tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- eight ounces dry bowtie noodles, cooked and drained
- six cups low-salt vegetable stock or water or a mix
- Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.
- In a five quart Dutch oven sauté the sliced onions, carrots and mushrooms in two tablespoons of oil until onion is soft, about five minutes.
- Push the onions aside and add the paprika, garlic and buckwheat to the pan. Cook, stirring, until buckwheat is fragrant. If the pan is dry, you can add a little oil.
- Add the 6 cups of water or stock, and return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, add tamari and cook 12-15 minutes until buckwheat is tender.
- Add noodles. Add green onions, reserving some to sprinkle on each serving.
- Add a few grinds of pepper and additional salt if desired.
Not only did this soup meet my expectations as a comfort food, the whole house smelled fantastic for hours.
We had this soup with teeny tiny steamed brussels sprouts and imaginary muffins. Next time real muffins!