Here’s a new interpretation of Russian shchi.Yulia Mulino
Sorrel is one of the first veggies you can find in early spring. The word ‘find’ is not a random one here. This plant grows on the edge of the woods in April. I used to collect these fresh tender leaves with my grandmother in childhood. I remember her sorrel shchi with tenderness.
Sure, the safer way of getting sorrel is growing it in your own garden or buying it from farmers. The garden variation of sorrel has larger and fatter leaves. Probably, this is best for the soup, but I wanted to pick it with my son in the nearest field. The young leaves are the best.
Sorrel is full of vitamin C and a large amount of vitamin A, so it will improve eyesight and help with losing weight. Another plant used in spring green shchi is nettle. It is used as an antioxidant, and reduces stress and tension. If you want to boost your immune system with vitamins and minerals you definitely need to go for this soup.
The classic Russian sorrel shchi is based on meat broth and contains potatoes, carrots and onions. Sorrel adds sourness to a soup. That’s why traditionally we serve it with an egg and fat sour cream to compensate for the sour taste.
Today, I decided to make a twist with the recipe. I was inspired by miso soup where you can add anything you like (or so I believe). I decided to use sorrel and nettle instead of wakame (seaweed), and just kept the shiitake and tofu. I added noodles to make the soup more nourishing. I gave a Japanese touch by adding miso paste. To keep the dish vegan, I did not use dashi broth but made a simple vegetable one which matches perfectly with its natural taste. In the end, it turned into a gorgeous fusion of two dishes.
1. Make the broth by adding carrots, onions, celery, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf in 1.5 l cold water. Bring it to boil and shimmer for about 5 minutes.
2. Remove the vegetables from the broth.
3. Wash and cut shiitake, and add to the broth. Let them boil for about 10 minutes.
4. Cut Tofu in 1 cm cubes and add to the soup as well. Turn off the heat.
5. Add the miso paste. In order to get a homogeneous consistency, use a strainer. Follow the instructions of your miso paste regarding the proportions and add salt to the broth if necessary.
6. Wash and cut the sorrel and nettle. Be careful with nettle because it burns. Use gloves while picking it up and working with it. Once it’s in hot water it will be soft and tender.
7. Add the greens to the soup.
8. Cook the noodles following the instructions on the packaging, and place in each plate and then pour in warm soup.
9. Serve the dish with fresh green onions and sesame seeds.
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