Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This is a traditional Russian cabbage and potato soup. It's not the fanciest, there are others that are more interesting. But it's hearty and warm and good anyway! Some versions are made with sauerkraut instead of plain cabbage, adding a sour/tangy taste. That's pretty common in Russian soups, to add pickled vegetables or a little vinegar and sugar for a special flavor. I haven't seen that in schi recipes using regular cabbage, but I add a little pickle brine to mine because I like it.

4 qts beef stock*
2 large potatoes
1/2 small head of cabbage
1 onion
1 T sunflower oil
2 medium carrots
1 medium tomato
Few T pickle brine
Salt to taste

Stock is very easy to make. In a large pot, place meat, an onion (halved), a carrot (halved), a few cloves of garlic (whole), couple of bay leaves, some peppercorns (I use a mix of black and white peppers and allspice). Bring to a boil, let simmer until meat is tender. This will depend on your cut of meat, but generally longer time = more tender meat + tastier stock. I let mine go for about 3 hours usually. Meat with a bone gives better stock.

Remove the meat from the stock and set aside. Bring the stock up to a boil and add the potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes). Chop the cabbage. I like to chop it thickly, instead of shredding it, for this soup. After the potatoes have been in about 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Warm the oil in a saucepan. Cut the onion into half-rings and saute in the oil. After a couple of minutes add the carrot (shredded). When it's all soft, add the chopped tomato. Once the tomato is cooked, remove the saucepan from heat. After the cabbage has been boiling about 30 minutes, add the contents of the saucepan to the soup. Add the brine to the soup and salt to taste. At this point you can also chop the meat and put in the soup, but I prefer to serve the boiled meat separately, on the side. Let flavors combine on a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve.

Notes: This tastes better the next day, after the flavors have mixed even more. I have no idea why tomatoes are included in a traditionally winter time soup, but they are! I've seen recipes that use chicken and chicken broth, if you prefer. To make this vegetarian, I would just use a nice vegetable broth.

Serving Suggestion: My boyfriend claims that this is one of the few Russian soups that is not usually eaten with sour cream. He qualifies this by saying that "of course" a person CAN add it if they want. Put chopped greens (dill, parsley) on top of the soup just before serving.

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