The best known Russian soup outside the country is borscht, which is often regarded as the Russian national dish. However, Russians are equally fond of two other soups—shchi and solyanka. Solyanka is a spicy broth served in cheap cafés and most expensive Russian cuisine restaurants. There are quite a few versions.
1 pound, 2 ounces stew meat
1 stalk of celery
1 small leek
4 ounces smoked sliced bacon
4 pickled gherkins
3 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped parley
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
Boil the meat together with two bay leaves and marrowbone in three pints of water. Reduce the heat and skim off the foam with slotted spoon. Cook meat for one hour. Meanwhile clean the carrot, celery, and leek. Peel and dice the celery. Remove outer skins from the shallots and the leek. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash.
Put one tablespoon butter in a frying pan. Gently cook the vegetables in the butter for a minute or two. After the meat stock has cooked for 45 minutes, add the vegetables and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In the meantime, cut the frankfurters into slices and chop the bacon into small bits. Wrap both in aluminum foil and refrigerate.
After about an hour, when the meat is soft, strain the stock through a sieve into a bowl. Cut the meat into pieces. Finely slice four gherkins and three shallots. Cut three tomatoes into quarters. Then brown the diced bacon and the shallots in a saucepan, together with one tablespoon of butter.
Dilute three tablespoons tomato puree with some of the stock and add to the bacon and shallots, stirring continuously. Add the tomatoes, gherkins, and vegetables but not the leek. Finally, add the frankfurter meat, pour in the stock, and leave to cook for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and dill. This soup can be reheated the next day, though you should take care not to boil it.
Servings: Serves about six
Russian mothers have long relied on cabbage’s natural abundance of dietary fiber to easily and inexpensively fill their children’s stomachs. This traditional recipe uses veal, but the filling can vary based on personal taste.
1 small cabbage
1-2 bay leaves
14 ounces veal
7 ounces veal or pork lard
2-3 slices white bread
1 cup milk
Boil the cabbage until leaves start separating. Take out, drain, and put the filling between the leaves without tearing them off. Fix with a thread, put in boiling water, add carrot, sliced onions, cloves, spices, and salt. Boil 20-30 minutes at low heat until the filling is ready. Serve with sour cream or cream and sprinkle with herbs. To make the filling, grind veal with lard, and stir in bread (soaked in milk and pressed out) and whipped eggs.
Servings: Serves four
Red meat dishes have always been a leading feature of the Russian dinner table. The recipe below offers a slightly richer version of Beef Stroganoff. Any wild mushrooms can be used here, even champignons.
1 pound, 6 ounces veal
9 ounces honey
Butter or sunflower oil
6 1/2 ounces sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a knob of butter in a thick-bottomed pan. Add mushrooms and fry slowly for 15-20 minutes. Add chopped onions. Slice and tenderize the veal, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
Cut tomatoes into circles and fry a little in oil, then transfer carefully to a dish. Fry the meat in the same oil until half-ready and a light brown crust appears. Put a tomato circle on each piece. Add sour cream and some salt to the mushrooms and onions. Pour the mixture over the meat and tomatoes, cover, and stew on a medium heat for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with grated cheese and stew another five minutes. Serve with boiled rice or fresh vegetables.
Servings: Serves four to five
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