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Russian cabbage soup RUSSIAN CABBAGE SOUP
Shchi
500 - 600 g white cabbage (about ½ medium to large head)
1½ - 2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion
½ small leek (white part)
1 medium carrot
small piece of parsnip
small piece of rutabaga
(small piece of celery root)
about 2 l good and strong beef stock (preferably homemade)
1 bay leaf
salt
black pepper
(dash of white wine vinegar)
(2 - 3 tbsp tomato paste)
(chopped parsley)
for serving:
smetana

Shred the cabbage in short, thickish strips. Rinse and thinly slice the white part of the leek. Peel and finely dice the onion. Clean, peel and finely dice enough root vegetables to get about 300 grams when weighed together with the onion and the leek. Do not use root vegetables more than half of the weight of the cabbage, otherwise they will overpower the cabbage flavour.

Bring the stock to the boil. Melt the butter in a large, wide saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and leek, the diced root vegetables and a pinch of salt. Stirring continually, sauté the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Do not let them brown. Add the shredded cabbage and stir, until it has somewhat collapsed and wilted.

Pour just enough hot stock in the pan to cover the ingredients. Stir and bring the soup to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let the soup simmer for at least one hour, preferably longer. If the soup seems too thick, almost stew-like, add some more hot stock.

Remove the lid, add the bay leaf, some salt and pepper. To sharpen and deepen the flavour, you may also add a dash of vinegar and some tomato paste. Note, that the tomato paste will give the soup a red tint. Let the soup simmer slowly for another 20 minutes or so, uncovered.

Sprinkle the soup with some chopped parsley and serve topped with a dollop of smetana. In addition, you may serve meat pasties or other Russian-type pasties.

Recipe source: adapted from "Shchi iz belokochannoi kapusty", Lifshits, M. O. et al. (1955) Kulinariia. Moscow: Gostorgizdat.


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