Having a blog and a baby simultaneously are hard.
We knew this, of course, but it still bears repeating. Having time to cook sophisticated meals in the midst of my grow-your-own-roommate project is challenging.
Luckily, Russia’s national soup, shchi, was not sophisticated.
Delicious? Yes. Sophisticated? Weeknight-level.
Now, before we talk about shchi, you may have noticed that the last blog was Latvia, and there are a lot of letters between L and R.
We’re in a strange place in the order of succession:
- M is for Madagascar, whose national dish, romazava, is a meaty, veggie-filled stew. You know what I can’t fathom having the time to make right now? A meaty, veggie-filled stew.
- N is for Nauru, an island of about 10,000 people and, as far as I can tell, no discernible home-spun recipes anywhere on the Internet. If I’m missing something, please let me know.
- O is for OMG, the only country whose name starts with O is Oman.
- P is for Palau, which is slightly larger than its fellow Micronesian country of Nauru but is going to require more research than I have time for right now.
- Q is for quit listing letters, because we already did Qatar and that’s it for the Qs.
On a recent evening, Emily and Eleanor had a social engagement and I had plenty of caffeine, so I was ready to get the blog moving. But I didn’t feel like making a Malagasy stew. And rather than get stuck on the Micronesian nations, I decided to just move forward.
Which brings us to Russia.
When you think of Russian cuisine, you may think of borscht, but the stars are pelmeni dumplings and shchi soup. I skipped the dumplings – blame the baby again – and went straight for the soup, a sour soup filled with delicious sauerkraut.
And the key word there is delicious. Don’t just go to your neighborhood supermarket and buy the generic, shelf-stable jar of kraut. If it’s not for sale in a refrigerated case, you don’t want it. Portland is blessed to have plenty of fresh, local sauerkrauts to choose from, and it’s not the hardest food to DIY. If you’ve never had fresh sauerkraut, you owe it to yourself. It’s my favorite way of serving the brassicas. One taste and you’ll see why.
I’d also recommend, in contrast to the recipe below, adding some meat. It felt a little empty with just veggies.
Shchi via Olga’s Flavor Factory
- 2 quarts broth of your choosing
- 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups sauerkraut
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- sour cream for garnishing
- Heat your broth to a boil.
- Add the cubed potatoes sauerkraut to the broth.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, 20-30 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, place the dried mushrooms in a small pot with water, and heat to just below boiling. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter in a colander. Chop the mushrooms, and add the mushrooms and liquid to the soup.
- Cook the onions and pepper in butter for about 5-7 minutes until they are tender. Add to the soup.
- When the soup is cooked, garnish with dill and/or scallions and serve with sour cream.