Shchi uses beef broth for a rich and robust flavor, making this Russian version different from other Cabbage Soup recipes.
Shchi: More Than Just Cabbage Soup
Shchi (pronounced she) is one of the national dishes of Russia, and while you may think that a cabbage soup makes for quite a boring national dish, think again. This soup has a base of beef broth, making it rich and flavorful.
Grated carrots and sliced onions give the soup a light sweetness. And, a finishing of diced tomatoes gives a nice pop of color.
Classic Russian Comfort Food
Shchi has been a staple soup in Russian cuisine for centuries, and legends tell of its impact in the political sphere since the early days.
For instance, the Mongol ruler Batu Khan in the mid 1200s is said to have refrained from pillaging a small Russian village after they served him a pot of Shchi, which he found very tasty.
It was also a common staple of the army in Tsarist Russia, made by the gallon in rolling field kitchens.
That’s a lot of Shchi!
Different Ways of Making Russian Shchi
Variations of Shchi can be found using sauerkraut instead of, or in addition to, fresh cabbage, creating “Sour Shchi.” Still other versions make use of sorrel or other greens in a “Green Shchi.”
Today, we’re sticking with the most basic, “Fresh Shchi.”
This version is often found as a summer soup in Russia, where there are old sayings that no meal is complete without Shchi. But, cabbage is incredibly nutritious and a good source of Vitamin C, making this soup an excellent choice for a nourishing winter food as well.
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter,
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced small
- ½ medium head cabbage, shredded
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 c beef stock, good quality (we prefer low sodium)
- 3 large tomatoes or 2 c canned, diced tomatoes, diced
- Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 Tbsp fresh dill (or dry)
- ½ c sour cream
- Melt butter in medium soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onions and carrots and sauté over medium heat, until golden, 3-5 min. Add potatoes, cabbage, bay leaves, and beef stock. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes with any juice and mix well. Taste the soup and season as desired with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until the tomatoes are heated through, 3-5 minutes.
- Serve the soup garnished with dill and sour cream, if desired.
This soup pairs wonderfully with a thick slice of rye bread.