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Shchi / Schi – Russian Cabbage Soup

This one is another stable soup of the Russian cuisine, and like everything else it comes in many varieties. The main component of Shchi is cabbage, however it can be fresh or kislaya (sauerkraut), and the rest of ingredients depend on which type you use.

My family uses meat broth as the base, though I’m sure you could substitute vegetable broth as well. If you’re starting from ready broth, this is actually a really quick and easy recipe as well.

Ingredients

Broth

You can follow directions for making meat broth on the Borscht recipe, or start with your own ready broth. We start with about 8 cups of broth, and adjust by adding water as needed.

Shchi

  • 1 Large chopped onion (can be used from preparation of broth)
  • 2 large, chopped carrots (can be used from preparation of broth)
  • 2 Washed Celery stalk (can be used from preparation of broth)
  • 1 large, coarsely, chopped potato
  • 0.25 Large head of fresh cabbage, shredded (or substitute equivalent amount of sauerkraut)
  • 1 large chopped tomato (substitute 4oz of chopped mushrooms if using sauerkraut)
  • 1-2 Bay leaves, 5-6 whole black pepper corns, fresh dill, salt to taste, and any other soup seasoning
  • 1 tbs of unsalted butter if making the soup from fresh cabbage

Directions

Starting with the broth, bring to a boil and lower the heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage, and the tomato.

Add all the seasoning except the dill, and adjust the salt to flavor. Allow the soup to cook for 20-30 minutes at a simmer. The cabbage should be soft, and the tomato should almost completely be dissolved. Add the fresh, chopped dill, and the table spoon of butter.

Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the butter completely dissolves.  I don’t recommend skipping on the butter, it adds quite to the flavor when making the soup with fresh cabbage.

Serve with a table spoon of sour cream and Enjoy!

Kislaya Kapusta (Russian Sour Cabbage / Sauerkraut)

Sauerkraut is not Russian in origin, but like most ancient dishes of Europe and Asia, it has taken root and developed a distinct flavor of its own in Eastern Europe. It’s very simple to make, but requires up to a week of preparation. However, you can make a lot at once and it’ll easily last for a month in the fridge.

It is commonly served as a side or used in salads and soup preparation. From personal experience I find Russian sauerkraut to be sweeter than other European varieties.

Ingredients

Per 0.5 head of cabbage

  • 2 large peeled carrots
  • 1 table spoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 cranberries

Prepare as much sauerkraut as you please, but we typically make a lot at once since it takes a little bit to ferment. We worked in batches of 0.5 heads of cabbage to keep the mess down.

Directions

Coarsely shred/slice the cabbage and carrots. Combine in a large bowl with the salt and sugar.

Using your hands, crush and mix the mix to release the juices from the cabbage and carrots. Add the cranberries.

Place the mix in a large pot and pack it down (key is to get as much cabbage submerged as possible).

Add additional layers cabbage as needed; we used 2 whole heads of cabbage in this preparation.

Cover the pot with cheesecloth, or you can improvise as we did. It’s important to the cabbage breath.

Set aside at room temperature for 1-1.5 days. Once you see some bubbles forming (sign of fermentation starting), use your hands to turn the cabbage over, brining the layer on the bottom to the top. Compact everything down again, and use the handle of a spoon to poke 3-4 holes in the cabbage going all the way to the bottom. This is needed in order to release gases formed during fermentation.  Cover again with the cheesecloth.

Do this every day, making sure to check how it tastes. It can take up to a week to ferment the cabbage to the desired flavor.  Once it has the distinct sour-sweet flavor, transfer the sauerkraut to a sealable container and refrigerate.

Chill and enjoy!

Mixed Meat Solyanka (Soup)

For a first update in a while I have decided to add a recipe for another very popular Russian (Ukrainian in origin) soup. This is another recipe with many different variations and in modifying it is actually encouraged. This particular recipe we pulled out of an old Russian recipe book and it produced some excellent results.  There are other variations of Solynka made with either fish or mushrooms.

The word Solyanka refers to the salty/sour taste of the soup, which comes from the pickles and sauerkraut commonly used to prepare it.

Ingredients

Meat Broth

  • Large pieces of pork, beef, or lamb along with any bones (we used left over pork)
  • 1 unpeeled, washed onion (to be discarded)
  • 2  washed carrots (to be discarded)
  • 1 whole washed, unpeeled head of garlic (to be discarded)
  • 2 washed stalks of celery (to be discarded)

Alternatively you can start off with store bought beef broth and dress it up with some vegetables.

Soup

  • 1 large chopped onion
  • Any chopped meat you want or have left over, cold cuts, cooked chicken, hot dogs can all be used in any combination
  • 0.5 cups of chopped Spanish olives
  • 4 chopped dill pickles (can use kosher instead)
  • 1 peeled, diced tomato
  • 3-4 tbs of tomato paste
  • Salt (add it at the very end), pepper, soup seasoning to taste (we used Vegeta and bay leaves)

Directions

We started with the broth preparation. In a large pot of water, drop your meat set aside for the broth. Bring to a boil and skim all the foam that forms on top during this process. Otherwise you’ll end up with unpleasant chunks of protein at the end.

Drop in the broth vegetables and cook at a simmer for at least an hour.

Strain the broth of the vegetables and discard. Remove and discard any bones. Remove the meat, cut it up and throw right back in.

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Add your meats for the soup (we used some pre-cooked hot dogs and some cold cuts)

In a pan, brown the chopped onions and add the tomato paste. Combine and cook for a few minutes.

Add the olives, pickles, and tomatoes. Season, and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes at a simmer.

Serve warm garnished with chopped dill and/or a table spoon of sour cream.

Enjoy!