Traditional Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Soup

Homemade cabbage soup shchi with sour cream and bread
Lisovskaya Natalia / Getty Images
  • Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
365 Calories
15g Fat
27g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 365
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 20%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 669mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Protein 29g
Calcium 115mg 9%
*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 ribs (spare)
  • 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 butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 large tomato (peeled, seeded, and diced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Black peppercorns (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 large potato (peeled and diced)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Optional garnishes: sour cream or heavy cream, dill sprigs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.