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Solyanka - Meat Soup with Pickles

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

After battling with the snow on our roof and driveway, we had a little break of warmth and sunshine. Not for long! The weekend was disappointingly windy and cold. Our aching bodies begged for a proper fuel...
Browsing through famous Cookbook by Elena Molokhovets, I suddenly remembered this soup: loaded with different meats, cucumbers, olives, cabbage, and mushrooms. Sounds good, doesn't it? So I thought, and made it for the first time in my life. It was just what we needed at this time of winter stress...

What you need:

B r o t h:
2.5 lb beef with bones
2.5 qt filtered water
1whole yellow onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk of celery, coarsely cut
10 black pepper corns
Salt to taste

S o u p   t h i c k e n e r:
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
12 medium button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium pickled cucumbers, diced
12 green olives
1/4 medium head of cabbage, shredded (about 2 packed cups)
1 cup cucumber brine
1 tbsp flour
1-2 cups of cubed meats: a frank, bacon, sausage, etc.
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste (any kind)
1 bay leaf
Slices of lemon & black olives to garnish
Chopped greens (dill, parsley, green onions)
Total time 3 hours 30 minutes

Make a nice beef broth (use this recipe of the beef broth, for example ).
Fish out and discard vegetables. Take out meat, remove all bones, cut meat in small pieces, and put back to the broth along with other meats. Set aside.
M-m-m - looks nice already...
Then prepare the soup thickener. Saute onion with butter until slightly golden, add mushrooms, let them reduce in volume a little, then add cucumber, olives, and brine, saute 7 minutes. Add cabbage, continue to simmer until cabbage is almost done. Quickly heat flour on a dry skillet, constantly stirring, until it is browned just a little. Sprinkle over soup thickener, and mix very quickly to evenly incorporate into the mixture.
Transfer vegetables into your broth, stir well, add a bay leaf, and simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat, add part of the greens (dill and parsley), and let the soup brew for 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream or cream, garnish with more greens, slices of lemon, and black olives. What a treat when winter seems endless!

Don't use much of franks: their smell can overpower the rest of aromas. I made this mistake and had to fish out most of it. It's better to put more boiled meat instead.
Pickled cucumbers can be very different in sourness and vinegar content. If you feel your cucumbers are too sour, less is more in this case. Put some, and taste. If you feel your cucumbers are not sour enough, use more or add some lemon or lime juice(or slices cut in small wedges). The same refers to the brine: add more or less depending on your taste.
Rye bread is a great accompaniment to this filling and extremely satisfying soup.

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