UPDATED: Cooking with FOIA: The Soviet Army's 1948 borscht recipe

UPDATED: Cooking with FOIA: The Soviet Army’s 1948 borscht recipe

The CIA kept this translation of the “Manual for the cook instructor of the ground troops in peacetime” classified for over 50 years

Written by
Edited by Beryl Lipton

Congrats to David and Shannon Perry, winners of our first “Cooking With FOIA” challenge. David’s Twitter thread about making the borscht is embedded below.

A document recently uncovered in the Central Intelligence Agency declassified archives reveals that for over 50 years the CIA kept a translated copy of the Soviet Army’s 1948 “Manual for the cook instructor of the ground troops in peacetime” a closely-guarded secret.

Originally published in January of 1948, the translation appears to be dated some eight years later in February of 1956. The reason for the belated translation is unclear, as the cover sheet likely containing some explanation has been withheld in full.

The manual itself outlines the duties of the titular “cook instructor,” from more general considerations such as “make sure people find your food tasty” …

to the surprisingly detailed definition of what constitutes tasty food.

Also included are dozens of recipes, including that great Slavic staple, borscht

which also comes in varieties such as “borscht with sauerkraut” …

“borscht with beet leaves” …

and, of course, “borscht made of millet.”

We’re offering five MuckRock requests and a packet of stickers to the first person who makes the recipe themselves at home. For an added challenge, try and make the bouillon from scratch.

The full manual is embedded below.

Image by liz west via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY 2.0