Solyanka (also spelled soljanka), which comes from the Russian word for "salt," is a soup that possibly originated in Ukraine in the 17th century and became beloved by Russians. This is a hearty, thick soup with salty cured meats, sausages, olives, capers, pickles, cabbage, sometimes carrots, and dill and sour cream for garnish. Accompanied, of course, by whole-grain bread. There is a vegetarian version, but meat solyanka is the most common. It can be considered an "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" type of soup, but it tastes so much better than that name implies.
It's often considered the ultimate hangover cure because it replaces the salts lost after a night of revelry.
- For the Sachet:
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 4 allspice berries
- For the Soup:
- 10 cups water
- 4 tablespoons beef base
- 1/2 head shredded cabbage
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 medium chopped onions
- 2 peeled and chopped carrots
- 1 pound Polish kabanosy sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 cup cubed ham
- 3 large chopped dill pickles
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3/4 cup sliced black olives
- 2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
- For the Garnish:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill to taste
Make the Cheesecloth Sachet
Make the sachet by tying bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in a square of cheesecloth with butcher's twine.
Using the ends of the butcher's twine, tie the sachet onto the handle of a large soup pot.
Make the Soup
Add water and beef base to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Add shredded cabbage and sliced celery, return to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Put oil into a large skillet and heat. Add onion and carrots, and sauté until translucent. Add sausage, chicken, ham, pickles and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Transfer to the soup pot.
Add capers, olives, stewed tomatoes, and bring barely to a boil. Add the wine and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Serve the Soup
Remove the sachet and discard. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.
Ladle soup into hot bowls and garnish with sour cream and dill or pass them at the table for diners to serve themselves.
Accompany hot soup with multigrain bread.