Shchi (cabbage soup)

I’m in New York for the next few days, visiting my younger sister, meeting a few bloggers and most importantly, cooking. If I’m going to spend my precious vacation days and not travel to some new and exotic country, I want to spend as much time as I possibly can in the kitchen – cooking delicious food and of course taking pictures so I can share it with you.

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You may notice this post has better quality pictures than usual – that’s because my sister’s loft apartment has two story high floor to ceiling windows. Natural light is definitely a girl’s photographer’s best friend! I was in heaven. Finally the food looks as good as it tastes!!! I hope these pictures help you get over the fact that I will, in fact, try to persuade you to make cabbage soup. Yes, I said cabbage and trust me, you definitely want it in your next soup!

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Shchi is a traditional Russian soup although there are endless variations to the dish. The base must contain cabbage. That’s basically where it stops. My mom usually wings it based on what and how much of a specific ingredient she has in her fridge. Typically cabbage, carrots, potatoes, citric acid (to make the soup a little sour), tomatoes and herbs make it in. Optional add-ins include mushrooms, white beans, zucchini and peas.

Since my mom’s recipe instructions left a lot to be desired (surprise, surprise), I consulted my trusty Please to the Table cookbook for a shchi recipe and adjusted from there. I took a few shortcuts (such as using pre-made beef broth, vegetable broth would totally work by the way!) and last minute tossed some shredded roasted chicken because we had some on hand (it would have been great without it too, so this can definitely be a vegetarian entrée or appetizer). What came out was a deep earthy and slightly sour veggie-filled soup. The Please to the Table cookbook says the soup tastes even better 24 hours later and I’m seriously giddy with excitement about tomorrow’s lunch (it was seriously fabulous already). Now…are you ready to make some shchi?? Let’s do it! Open-mouthed smile

Ingredients (serves 8-12)

  • 10 dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6T unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 cups cabbage (about 2/3 large cabbage head)
  • 2.5 cups sauerkraut
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 8 cups beef (or vegetable) broth, divided
  • one 14.5-16oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • root veggies of choice (such as 2-4 carrots, 2-4 parsnips, 1 large rutabaga turnips)
  • protein of choice (I used 1/2 roasted chicken, shredded)

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(Note: I made a half-batch and changed a few things up last minute, so ignore the herbs on the left and add a mental picture of tomato paste and a roasted chicken; the recipe and instructions below will be for the full batch Smile)

1. Soak dried mushrooms in water for 1-2 hours.

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… meanwhile prep all your ingredients. Chop the cabbage:

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Rinse the sauerkraut thoroughly:

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Julienne the carrots (PS this little tool was genius – I want one!!)

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Cut the rest of the veggies in small pieces. When the mushrooms are nice and soft, discard the liquid and chop them up finely as well.

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All right, let’s make soup!!

2. Melt 3T butter in a large pot over medium heat.

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Add cabbage and sauerkraut and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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3. Add tomato paste and 1 cup of broth.

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Cover and let simmer on low for 35 minutes. This is what it will look like then:

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4. In the meantime, you can sauté your root veggies. First melt the rest of the butter over medium heat:

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Then add all your veggies and fry for about 15 minutes, until softened.

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5. Let’s combine these!

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6. Add the rest of the broth…

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… as well as the tomatoes (no need to drain them, dump the whole can in).

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Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

7. If using, add shredded chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes, until warmed through.

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Guess what? It’s time to eat!

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I thought I had to wait 24 hours to eat this… nope, dig right in!

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Open wiiiiiiiiiide

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So comforting. I think there are many more soups in my future this winter season! Open-mouthed smile

What’s your favorite soup? Also, what should I do with the rest of my cabbage?

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