Initially in Russia all soups were called ukha – pea ukha, chicken ukha. Only in the 18th century this dish became the way we know it now – nourishing fish soup.

Traditional Russian ukha is a hearty, rich fish broth with chopped vegetables, fish, herbs and a lot of spices. Usually the fattier the fish, the more spices are added to ukha such as parsley (leaves and roots), fennel, bay leaf, black pepper. However, it is better to garnish the plates with fresh herbs right before serving.

There are several kinds of ukha:

  • White ukha is cooked from fish with white meat: pike, whitefish, perch or bass.
  • Black ukha is made from sazan, crucian or carp.
  • Red ukha is cooked from salmon, trout and sturgeon.
  • Tzar ukha is prepared with chicken broth.

Ukha can be served hot and cold. Nowadays there are many variations of classical recipe of this soup. Ukha can be enriched with rice or millet, a slice of lemon, tomatoes or even an egg white.

Fishermen follow their own rituals when cooking ukha. For instance, they use only water from the river, and believe it is necessary to extinguish a firebrand in the pot – this should give special aroma to the dish. In the very end fishermen add a shot of vodka to ukha, which in fact does not affect the taste of the soup in any way.

Russian fish soup Ukha


Prep Time: 30-40min | Cook Time: 60min | Approx. 6 servings

  • Fresh fish
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Parsley, dill
  • Bay leaf
  • Crushed black pepper
  • Allspice


One of the main secrets in cooking ukha is that the pot should always remain uncovered.

  • Gutte the fish and remove gills.
  • Cut onions, carrots and potatoes into cubes. Boil vegetables for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
  • Add wholly fish, bay leaf, black pepper and boil for 15-20 minutes.
  • Get out fish of the broth and remove head, tail and bones.
  • Add onions, carrots and potatoes, and boil for 1o minutes.
  • Add fish meat and boil for 5-10 minutes until potatoes is fully cooked.
  • Add spices. Before serving garnish the soup with chopped dill and parsley.

There are some other facts about russian Ukha

Which fish is the best for a russian fish soup named “ukha”?

  • To make ukha you’ll have to use fresh or just caught fish.
  • Most fitting types of fish will be sterlet, bass, sturgeon, pikeperch, ruffe.
  • Kinds of fish that folks count as “black fish” (not suitable for ukha, just for broth) are:  bream, minnow, bleak, roach, burbot, which can be used for a regular fish soup. After boiling the “black fish” has to be removed and their broth has to be used to cook “lofty” fish.
  • Small fish that fits well for a rich broth ruffe, bass, roach, bleak.
  • Cruisian and tench are not suitable for ukha because of their smell of pond scum.

Preparation of fish

  • For ukha you have to use fresh fish.
  • All of the fish for ukha or broth has to be gutted and it’s better to remove gills as well.
  • Just filet of “lofty” fish will not be enough for a rich broth. You will have to use small fish, heads and fins to make broth. After broth is ready remove those ingridients.

What are the ingredients of true ukha?

There is a lot of debate on additional ingredients of ukha. Some think that a little bit of salt and onion is well enough for ukha, and some think that carrots potatoes and 5 to 10 spices will make the best ukha.

The most common recipes include:

  • onions
  • potatoes
  • rice, millet
  • pepper
  • bay leaf

More exotic recipes include

  • carrot
  • milk, dry milk
  • butter
  • lemon
  • egg

Special Ukha traditions

  • The most delicious ukha is cooked from just caught fish, in the wild, in a cooking pot on a campfire.
  • Some say that putting a burning piece of wood from a campfire in ukha for a couple of seconds gives it a very special scent and removes the bitterness of a gallbladder.
  • Every expert knows that to make “right” ukha you have to add a shot of vodka.
  • Alcohol will evaporate, but soup gets a very unusual taste. In some situations it will even brighten the broth.

Secrets of a tasty ukha

  • Do not let it reach strong boiling. Weak fire and not covering the cooking pot is the optimal way to cook ukha.
  • To keep ukha liquid try not to stir it’s better not to interfere in boiling process of a fish soup.
  • If your broth has darkened you can brighten it by adding egg whites, it will help you whiten your ukha.