Solyanka (also spelled soljanka) gets its name from the Russian word for salt. The soup may have originated in Ukraine in the 17th century—regardless, it 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 or rye bread.
This recipe flavors the broth with a combination of beef base and an herbal sachet. Bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice berries are bundled in a piece of cheesecloth and tied to the pot handle for easy retrieval.
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 Soup:
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 4 allspice berries
- 10 cups water
- 4 tablespoons beef base
- 1/2 head cabbage (green, shredded)
- 1 cup celery (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 1 pound Polish kabanosy sausage (sliced 1/4-inch thick)
- 2 cooked chicken breasts (cubed)
- 1 cup ham (cubed)
- 3 large dill pickles (chopped)
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
- 3/4 cup black olives (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 cup white wine (dry)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- For the Garnish:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill to taste
Gather the ingredients.
Make a spice sachet by adding the bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in a square of cheesecloth. Tie with a long piece of butcher's twine.
Using the ends of the butcher's twine, tie the sachet onto the handle of a large soup pot so that the sachet hangs in the pot.
Add the water and beef base to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Add the shredded cabbage and sliced celery and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Add the oil to a large skillet and heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until translucent. Add the sausage, chicken, ham, pickles, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer to the soup pot.
Add the stewed tomatoes, sliced olives, and capers and bring barely to a boil. Add the wine and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove the sachet and discard. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.
Ladle the soup into hot bowls and garnish with sour cream and dill or pass the garnishes at the table for diners to serve themselves. Serve hot.