Traditional Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Soup

Traditional Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Soup

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
400 Calories
27g Fat
15g Carbs
24g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 400
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 653mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 15mg 76%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 586mg 12%
*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 (SHEE) and sour cabbage (sauerkraut) soup or kislye shchi are two traditional Russian soups. There also is a green shchi made with sorrel, spinach, and other greens, which is known as zelyoniye shchi in Russian. As with most dishes, the recipes vary from cook to cook and from region to region. This sour cabbage soup recipe is made with fresh pork shoulder and smoked pork spareribs. Some cooks make theirs with beef brisket and cracked beef marrow bones.


  • 1 pound pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into chunks

  • 1 pound pork spareribs

  • 1 pound sauerkraut, drained, and rinsed, if desired

  • 8 cups water

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced, white and light green parts only

  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Black peppercorns, to taste

  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced, optional

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Sour cream, or heavy cream, for garnish. optional

  • Dill sprigs, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Soup ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Rinse meat and pat dry. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, place pieces of pork shoulder and spareribs and sear lightly on all sides.

    cook meat in a dutch oven

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Add the sauerkraut and water, and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, adding more water, if necessary.

    Add the sauerkraut and water to the meat in the dutch oven

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. In a medium skillet, sauté onion, leek, parsnip, and carrot in 1 tablespoon butter until translucent. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour, add tomatoes, 1 cup of the pork stock, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, whisking often to incorporate the flour.

    In a medium skillet, sauté onion, leek, parsnip, and carrot with spices, flour and some stock

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Transfer to the saucepan containing the pork stock, meat, and sauerkraut. If using potatoes, now is the time to add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

    Transfer to the saucepan containing the pork stock, meat, and sauerkraut

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Divide meat among heated bowls. Remove the bay leaf from the soup and ladle into bowls. Serve with sour cream or heavy cream and dill sprigs, if desired. Accompany with rye bread.

    Traditional Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Soup served with sour cream and rye bread

    The Spruce / Christine Ma