Thursday, May 10, 2012
(This recipe was originally posted in December 2006. Fully updated in May 2012).
Here's a recipe for a soup that must have frequently featured in one disguise or another in every single canteen and many households across the former Soviet empire: solyanka (see also this informative article about Russian soups). A hearty soup originally from Russia and Ukraine that can be just as humble or elegant as you want. If you're a flashy Slav, you use seven types of meat (incl. kidneys) and throw in a handful of black olives, a slice of lemon and a generous pinch of capers. If you're a more modest Estonian, you stick to sweating onions and a choice of sausages. You can add cabbage or other vegetables, make a vegetarian, fishy or meaty solyanka.
Whatever you do, you must use salted/brined cucumbers (aka pickles), which give the soup its characteristic salty-sour note.
Solyanka, Estonian style
(Seljanka eesti moodi)
3 large onions (about 400 grams in total)
4 Tbsp oil
100 ml boiling water
100 grams of concentrated tomato puree
1 litre beef stock (use boiling water and 2 beef stock cubes, if necessary)
3 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
3 salted cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
300-400 grams of cooked lean meat products (choose a mixture of Frankfurters, Polish kabanos or Krakow sausages, sliced cooked beef, mild chorizo sausages etc - 2-3 different types)
sour cream or smetana or thick plain yogurt
Quarter the onions and slice thinly crosswise.
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan, add onions and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add peppercorns and bay leaves alongside 100 ml of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes, until onions have softened.
Add tomato puree and stir until combined.
Add the hot stockm sliced cucumbers, and chopped meat products.
Bring slowly to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for about10 minutes, so the flavours can develop.
Taste for seasoning - you can add some lemon juice to sharpen the soup.Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some rye bread.
More solyanka recipes:
Salmon and wild mushroom solyanka @ Nami-Nami
Frau T's solyanka @ Urban Foodie
Solyanka @ Eastern Europan Food (About.com)
Russian meat solyanka @ Food.com
Solyanka @ Pavel Chuchuva (in Melbourne)
Simple Solyanka @ Windows to Russia