Borscht is what comes to mind when talking about Russian cuisine, however shchi is just as distinguishable. Shchi is a hot soup with cabbage as the main ingredient and even more favorably sauerkraut, lending it an appealing sour taste. With a myriad of recipes shchi can be made with meat or without, with cabbage or with sauerkraut but one thing remains the same, the soup should cure before eating. Most cooks wait at least a day or two before serving it hot alongside rye bread and butter.
Take note from the Russians and cut the cold of winter with this hearty soup brimming with vegetables and tangy sauerkraut. Sauerkraut may not appeal to every palette but for those who do enjoy it you’re in luck because pickled cabbage is a superfood. Fermented or pickled foods can be found all over the world and many cultures believe it is important to include these foods in their diets; Kefir, natural pickles, kimchi, tempeh, miso and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is known to boost the immune system, possesses cancer fighting properties, aid digestion and can fight the flu.
Most commercially made sauerkraut is actually ‘dead’ meaning it is void of the probiotic qualities that make it a superfood. To reap the benefits of nutrients, look for fresh sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of the grocery store or make your own, it’s not too difficult. The best recipe that I’ve used for homemade sauerkraut is from Sandor Katz author of Wild Fermentation, find his recipe here.
Schi with Dilled Sour Cream
Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope Romero
2 cups cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean
1 large leek, root and dry leafy ends trimmed, cleaned and finely diced
1 cup finely diced carrot
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)
2 cups diced parsnip or potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional, but very good)
2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, with juices
1/2 cup sauerkraut juice (or more vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
A few twists cracked black pepper
Slice mushroom caps in half, then slice the caps into quarters to create bite-size mushroom pieces. In a 4-quart soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté the leek, carrot, and celery in vegetable oil for 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and mushrooms and sauté for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until mushrooms have reduced in size and released most of their liquid.
Pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in parsnip, vegetable broth, bay leaves, allspice, caraway seeds (if using), marjoram, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, and ground black pepper. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, stir occasionally and cover.
Simmer the soup for 35 to 40 minutes or until the parsnips are tender. Remove the bay leaves, turn off the heat and season with cracked black pepper and salt if necessary and garnish with parsley. Allow soup to cool 5 minutes before serving. Top each bowlful with a generous tablespoon of sour dilly cream, recipe follows.
Sour Dilly Cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped dill
In a food processor or in a large measuring cup using an immersion blender, pulse together the yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic and salt until smooth. Pulse in the dill a few times. Keep chilled until ready to serve.