Traditional Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

Traditional Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
218 Calories
6g Fat
33g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 218
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 753mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Protein 11g
Calcium 141mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fresh cabbage soup, or shchi, is one of Russia's national dishes, and as with most dishes like this, the recipes vary from cook to cook and from region to region. This cabbage soup recipe is meatless and contains no sauerkraut. It's a mild but hearty vegetarian soup with fresh cabbage, potatoes, and tomatoes.

For a richer flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water, and top the soup with fresh dill and sour cream. Serve with rye bread for a filling lunch or dinner or offer as the first course of a winter menu.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 large head cabbage (cut into shreds)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • 1 rib celery (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Black peppercorns (to taste)
  • 8 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 large russet potatoes (peeled and coarsely chopped)
  • 2 large tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and chopped; or a 14-ounce can of undrained diced tomatoes)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garnish: sour cream
  • Garnish: fresh dill

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi) ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Add the butter to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.

    onions with butter in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Add the shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and chopped celery. Sauté about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

    shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and chopped celery added to the onions in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the bay leaf and black peppercorns. Pour in the water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

    bay leaf, black peppercorns, water and stock added to the cabbage mixture in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Add the potatoes to the soup and bring it back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

    potatoes added to the cabbage soup in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes (or undrained canned tomatoes) and bring the soup back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

     chopped fresh tomatoes or undrained canned tomatoes added to the cabbage soup in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Remove the bay leaf and peppercorns from the pot (some cooks leave the peppercorns in).

    black peppercorns and bay leaf removed from the Traditional Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Serve bowls of the soup topped with fresh sour cream and fresh dill and enjoy.

Tips

  • When the soup is made with sauerkraut, it is known as sour shchi or kislye shchi, and when it is made with sorrel, spinach, and other greens, it's known as green shchi or zelyoniye shchi.
  • A typical Russian meal starts with zakuski (appetizers), moves on to a hearty bowl of soup, proceeds to an equally hearty main course, and finishes with a not-too-sweet dessert. Soup is, or traditionally used to be, consumed on a daily basis in Russia, explaining the seemingly endless varieties.
  • Along with shchi, the most popular and traditional Russian soups include rassolnik (kidney-pickle soup), borscht (beet soup), botvinia (fish soup with green vegetables), solyanka (hangover soup), kharcho (Georgian lamb and rice soup), ukha (fish soup), sukhoi gribnoi (mushroom soup), okroshka (cold vegetable soup with meat), and schav (sorrel soup).