Bonnie Morales, Chef and Co-Owner, Kachka and Kachinka
The first-generation American daughter of Belarusian immigrants, chef Bonnie Morales (née Frumkin) grew up in Chicago in a large family that brought with them the distinctive culture of food and drink of the former Soviet Union. As an adult, Morales first began her professional career in product design, but after briefly working for a design consultancy in NYC, she left to pursue a career in food. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America, then honed her skills in several of New York and Chicago’s Michelin starred restaurants including Tru, where she met her future husband and business partner, Israel Morales. In 2014, the Morales’ opened Kachka, their dream restaurant devoted to the food that Bonnie grew up with, inspired by Russia and former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and Uzbekistan. Kachka has received accolades from publications such as Bon Appétit, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vogue, and Food & Wine. Eater National included Kachka on their list of Best Restaurants in America in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 the only restaurant in Portland to be included. Bonnie Morales was named one of Tasting Table’s “New Originals,” and nominated for Food & Wine's The People's Best New Chef in 2015. In 2018, Morales was named a Rising Star Chef by StarChefs, and a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest. In 2016, Bonnie and her partners launched Troika Spirits, and released their bottled horseradish vodka in retail markets. In summer of 2018, Kachka expanded into a larger space in Portland’s Central Eastside, and Kachka’s original location reopened as Kachinka, a fun, casual sister restaurant focusing on Russian-inspired drinking food. Morales’ first cookbook, Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking, co-authored by Deena Prichep, was released in 2017 to critical acclaim.
Excerpted from Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Frumkin Morales and Deena Prichep
Yields 6 to 8 servings
1 Bunch Baby Red Beets, with greens attached
Salt and sugar (as needed)
1 cup Smetana or European-style sour cream
4 fresh pickling or Persian cucumbers, peeled and cut in a ¼-inch dice
½ cup scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup dill, roughly chopped
Place 2 quarts cold water in a large pot, and salt generously. Bring to a boil.
While the water is heating, remove the leafy stems from the beets, and wash and finely chop them. Set aside.
Wash and peel the beetroots themselves, then grate them on the large holes of a box grater.
When the water has boiled, throw in the grated beets and greens. Reduce the heat until it’s just high enough to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, adding a touch of sugar if needed to bring out the beets’ sweetness. Let cool, and then refrigerate until totally chilled (can keep for up to 1 week).
To serve, take out the chilled soup from your refrigerator. Pour about 2 cups of it into a very large bowl. Whisk a scoop of smetana in until fully incorporated, and then whisk in the remaining base. Add enough fresh lemon juice to make it bright, and salt to taste (remember, beets love a lot of salt). Pour into individual bowls, and top each with a handful of diced cucumbers and the fresh herbs.