Thursday, 8 December 2011

Shchi; Russian Cabbage Soup

Shchi is simply Russian cabbage soup. I've seen recipes that are your basic peasant fuel, and I've seen rich and elaborate versions fit for the Tsar. Over the years I've developed my own idea of what it should be like, which is somewhere in the middle. All the richness in this version comes from the bacon, and if you get good, lean bacon it won't even be that rich - it will just seem that way. You could take it over the top if you like by adding some cream or sour cream, but really I think it is absolutely fine without it. This is a thick and filling soup, so some good rye bread would make it a complete meal.

You may wish to rinse the sauerkraut before adding it to the soup. Check it and see. Some is mild and doesn't need to be rinsed; some of it can be quite sour and briny. It will also depend on your taste, of course. I tend not to rinse mine, but you should consider the possibility.

8 servings
1 hour prep time

Shchi or Russian Cabbage Soup
Prepare the Vegetables:
1 cup celeriac, peeled and grated
1 large parsnip
OR 1 large parsley root
1 large carrot
2 to 3 large shallots
3 cups finely chopped cabbage

Peel and grate the celerariac. Peel and grate the parsnip or parley root. Peel and grate the carrot. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Set these all aside together.

Chop the cabbage finely and set it aside by itself.

Make the Soup:
4 cups pork, beef or chicken stock
3 cups sauerkraut
2 or 3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
250 grams (1/2 pound) smoky bacon
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dillweed
2 tablespoons soft unbleached flour
2 tablespoons hot horseradish
salt & pepper to taste

Put the stock, sauerkraut, bay leaves, and tomato paste in a soup pot and bring it to a simmer.

Meanwhile, chop the bacon and cook it over medium heat until it is about half cooked and a bit crisp. Add the celeriac, parsnip, carrot and shallots, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until well softened and slightly browned. Add everything to the soup.

Put the cabbage with the 2 cups water into another pot and bring to boil; cook until bright green then add both cabbage and cooking water to the soup.

Make a slurry of the paprika, dillweed and flour mixed with a couple of tablespoons of cold water, and stir it into the soup. Continue simmering the soup, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes more. Season with pepper to taste. You may need some salt, but check it first - there may be enough from the ingredients in the soup already.


Jerry said...

I just had similar soup last week using my very own fermented kraut. Back in Northern Bohemia (Czech Republic) we didn’t use bacon, we used duck or goose fat and for protein in place of bacon we used smoked meat or sausage and it had to be topped with a huge dollop of sour cream. Now, that is a winter food! I will have to try your version, though. Vegetable choice is the same except we included potatoes as well so our version was closer to stew then soup.

Ferdzy said...

Boy, that's really a stick to your ribs soup, Jerry. I have to admit I need a little less to be sticking to my ribs these days. But it sure sounds good.

Unknown said...

This looks delish. Thanks for posting. I got here by searching for roasted butternut soup recipes. Isn't the internet amazing??

I don't know how to change the Unknown bit - sorry!