Cabbage, not everybody’s cup of tea. But I like it! I can think of at least three dishes cabbage-based that I love: sauerkraut, Middle Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls and cocido, a spanish kind of soup with cabbage among its main ingredients. And more simply, I like it shredded really thin and added raw to my green salads.
But most of all, I’ve always loved sauerkraut; I have first discovered it as a very young girl in an annual fundraising festival held by the German Evangelic Church at the corner of my parents home. I recall the lovely German ladies that, dressed in traditional suits, were serving delicious typical cakes in the afternoon and sauerkraut in the evening and I just could not get enough! Definitely a lovely memory. Many years later, entering my thirties, I have enjoyed sauerkraut in Prague, as a topping for the best street hotdog I have ever tried! or as a side dish with meat and sausages, so yummy! Also, a couple of years ago, in a road trip along North Eastern France – Alsace and Lorraine -I have tried the Choucroute Alsacienne, a great variation prepared with various kinds of meat and sausages, just another success! I even cook this recipe at home sometimes (with bought sauerkraut).
Besides, cabbage is in season right now and I had some waiting to be transformed in something delicious in my fridge. Therefore, Shchi, a very traditional Russian cabbage soup seemed like the right choice for today. Great option for a comforting winter supper.
Being such an old and popular dish in Russia, there are many variations to Shchi: it can be prepared with or without meat, with fresh cabbage only, or with sauerkraut and varying the rest of the vegetables, being cabbage the constant one.
After some research; I came out with this approach I hope you will enjoy. I took the liberty of simplifying the cooking method, that originally splits the cooking of the cabbage and the rest of the veggies to later combine them, by doing it consecutively in the same pot. In order to reduce cooking time and to ensure that the cabbage will be tender I used the pressure cooker*, but you may also cook the soup in a regular pot. Let’s go and prepare it!
Time: 45 minutes.
- a dash olive oil (butter in the traditional recipe)
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1/4 cabbage head, shredded
- 1 cup sauerkraut
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tin diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dried mushrooms
- 1 litre beef stock (I used bought). Vegetarian/Vegan version by replacing with vegetable stock
- 1 potato diced (optional, I did not use since I am still going low carb)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns (or to taste)
- Fresh or dried dill and sour cream (to avoid in vegan version) to garnish
Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in hot water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the cooking pot, add the garlic, onion, celery and carrot; mix and sauté until softened.
Stir in the cabbage, the sauerkraut and a pinch of salt to help the cabbage soften. Then add the tomato paste and stir well .
Add the diced tomatoes along with its juice, the drained mushrooms and pour the stock. (At this stage you can add the potatoes if using). Season with more salt if needed, pepper, the bay leaves and some black peppercorns.
Place the lid on the pressure cooker* and once it reached full pressure cook for another 10 minutes. If not using the pressure cooker, cover and bring to a simmer for around half an hour or until the cabbage is completely softened.
*Always follow your pressure cooker instructions and manage it with due care.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with dill. This soup is even more delicious if you let it rest some hours after cooking. It makes a great leftover. À table!