Sunday, November 23, 2014

Solyanka Russian Soup

This hearty soup can miraculously turn bits and bobs from your winter larder into a satisfying, savory meal. This is one of the few examples of cooking with pickles--don't turn your nose up! Their zingy flavor blends pleasingly into the soup and adds some delightful crunch. The soup is made with a variety of meats, especially cured ones such as ham, smoked turkey, bacon, mild salami...whatever you have on hand. You can also add uncured pork, beef, or chicken.

Garnished with capers and jalapenos. Also suggested are: olives, lemon slices, pickled mushrooms, smetana/sour cream.
Use 3 lb of a variety of smoked and fresh meats, such as:
  • Cubed pork shoulder
  • Bone-in stew beef cut, such as round or chuck
  • Slab bacon
  • Smoked turkey
  • Ham hock
  • Smoked sausage (Krakovska from Kramarczuks is good for this)
2 medium onions
3 large carrots
1 c. dill pickles, chopped
1 c. frozen green beans (optional)
4 roma tomatoes, or 1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. pickled mushrooms, or fresh mushrooms cooked down to make 3/4 c.
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
+ parsley stems (for stock)
1 Tbsp. fresh or dried dill
3-5 Tbsp. pickle juice (from the jar)
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for saute

Garnish ideas:
  • Capers
  • Olives (any kind you like)
  • Lemon slices
  • Hot pepper slices
  • Green onions
  • Smetana or crème fraîche or sour cream
Begin by making a ham broth.  Place the ham hock, bacon, and stew meat in a large pot of water, and add one onion cut into wedges, one carrot roughly chopped, and the parsley stems. Add the bay leaves, allspice, and cloves, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour or until everything is tender. Drain through a sieve. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces, including the ham from the ham hock.

Meanwhile, dice the remaining carrots and onions. Dice any pre-cooked meats such as the smoked turkey or smoked sausage. Saute the onions and carrots in a heavy soup pot in some oil until they begin to get tender. Add the chopped pickles and mushrooms, and cook 1-2 minutes,  Add the tomato paste and paprika and continue to cook while stirring so it coats the veggies. Add the tomatoes or tomato puree and simmer for 5 minutes.

 Add 4-5 quarts of ham broth, as well as the cooked, chopped meat to your cooked veggies. Add the green beans, dill, and parsley, and simmer 5-6 minutes until the green beans are tender. You can also add the olives and capers at this point, but if you have picky eaters, leave them as a garnish. Add the pickle juice and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve with garnish and fresh, hearty bread.

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