Every Russian family tries to add something unique to its solyanka.Vasilisa Malinka
Historically, the word selyanka was invented by cooks, and it meant: “food of the villager”, or “villager’s stew” because selyanin means “villager”. However, for more than a hundred years now the word selyanin has disappeared from our language. The fact is that such soups were usually prepared rather salty, so the name itself transformed into solyanka, utilizing the word sol’ (salt) and just replacing one word with another.
Solyanka is a type of Russian soup with a base of strong broth into which is added cucumber, cabbage, tomato or other vegetable brine. It can be meat, fish or, less often, mushroom based. Traditionally, meat solyanka calls for the usage of smoked meats and sausages. Fish solyanka uses salt-cured and smoked fish, such as salmon or trout. Every version of solyanka has onions, pickled cucumbers, olives and/or capers, as well as a lemon slice added when serving. Also, this type of soup has many herbs and spices, such as pepper, parsley and dill.
Solyanka is very popular in Russia. On the morning after a feast or celebration, solyanka is one of the best meals you could have. The spicy and sour taste, as well as all the rich broth, help the body to recover from a hangover. It is also commonly served in school lunches because of its high nutrition, and since it fills you up and gives a ton of energy. There is no such thing as a “classical” recipe for this soup. Every family tries to add something unique to its solyanka.
1. Peel your pickles and dice into small pieces, keep the skin.
2. In a small pot cover pickle peels with your vegetable brine, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Dice the onion. Squeeze the excess brine from the cabbage and cut into pieces equal in size to onion.
4. In a separate medium-sized pot pour a little bit of oil and add onions, pickles and cabbage. Cook until they are soft. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Cut your sausages into small circles and add to the boiling mixture together with the cooked meat. Bring to a boil again.
6. Then add your capers, olives and the hot brine that you strained from the pickle peels. At this point, if you still feel like the soup needs salt, then this is a good time to add it.
7. Bring the soup to a boil again and turn off the heat. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
8. Serve with some chopped parsley and a lemon wedge on top.
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