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Of Russian origin: Shchi

Image from www.spravka13.ru Image from www.spravka13.ru

Sour turned delicious

When talking about Russian cuisine, one of the most distinguishable dishes – along with pelmeni (dumplings) and okroshka (cold-soup) – is the delicious hot soup shchi. It may not be quite as popular as the universally known Ukrainian borsch, but that doesn’t make its flavor or quality any worse.

There are over 60 different recipes for shchi, depending on what you put in it. Bacon, sorrel, beans, mushrooms, eggs and even seafood – all can be added to the original recipe to give it additional flavor. But at the center of this soup lies the cabbage or, even more preferably, the sauerkraut. It is this ingredient that gives a little bit of sour flavor to the soup and puts it at the top of many Russian menus.

Here is the original recipe for shchi:

Image from Izosoft Clipart Image from Izosoft Clipart

Ingredients:

• 6 tablespoons butter
• 4 cups shredded cabbage
• 2-3 cups sauerkraut (not canned) squeezed dry
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 12 cups beef, chicken or vegetable bouillon
• 1 carrot, peeled and cut into a julienne
• 1 cup onions, chopped
• 1 celery stalk, diced
• 1 large turnip, peeled and diced
• 1 16-ounce can tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
• salt and pepper
• 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed

Method:

In a large Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, then toss in the cabbage and sauerkraut and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the tomato paste and 1 cup or so of bouillon, cover, and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Melt the other 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet and sauté the carrots, onions, celery and turnips until soft and slightly brown - about 15 minutes. Seed and chop the tomatoes, set them aside.

When the sauerkraut and cabbage are nicely stewed, stir in the sautéed vegetables, tomatoes and the bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook 5 more minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, reheat slowly. Ladle into bowls and garnish with spoonfuls of dilled sour cream. 

Adjusting shchi to your taste

As mentioned above, you can add just about any ingredient to give it additional flavor. But the best recommendation regarding this delicious soup is to let it linger in the fridge for about 24 hours, which will turn it into a very special dish – the sutochnye shchi – or the “one-day shchi.”

It makes the flavour of the soup richer and more sour. Russians use the “one-day shchi” as a good means of rehab for a hangover. This soup is definitely a big hit in the country following large parties or celebrations, in particular on January 1st.

Bon appetit!

Written by Aleksey Yaroshevsky , RT correspondent