Sauerkraut Schi (Russian Traditional Soup)
Sauerkraut is a necessary ingredient of this traditional Russian soup.
Many people make their own sauerkraut all over Russia and other part of the ex-USSR, especially in the villages. The sauerkraut is normally prepared in late fall and is refrigerated or stored outside till spring, so people can take out each time only what is necessary for a meal. There are a lot of dishes that can be made with sauerkraut.
In Russia’s southern regions this soup is made with the rich pork broth – that is the recipe we are offering you.
One of the tricks with schi is that this soup is especially delicious the next day after cooking, when the flavors blend. Russian women make this soup in a large pot, leaving a part of it in the fridge overnight and warming it up the next day. Different types of chi can be thick or watery, depending of the water/ingredients ratio. A long time ago the ideal kind of schi was considered a very thick soup where “a spoon would stand upright”, or “schi with a mound” – where a large piece of meat was sticking out of the liquid and the vegetables in a plate.
1 lb pork belly (or any other non-lean cut)
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 lb sauerkraut
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Rinse the pork and place in pot. Pour in 6.5 pints of water and add the salt.
Place on the burner and bring to a boil.
After that turn the heat to low and boil very gently for 1 hour.
Take out the meat and strain the broth into a pot. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to the broth.
Add the cubed potatoes to the broth, bring the soup to a boil again and cook for 10 minutes more.
While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the carrots and onions in 4 tablespoons vegetable oil for 8-10 minutes stirring with a spatula.
Transfer the onion and carrot mixture into the soup pot and cook for another 5 minutes.
Separately sauté the sauerkraut in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for 4-5 minutes, then add to the soup. Let the vegetables boil gently for 5 minutes more and turn off the heat.
Add the bay leaves, ground black pepper and dried dill weed, then cover the pot and let stand for 15 minutes.
Prior to serving, make sure to stir the soup well.
If you wish to have “white” schi, you can add a tablespoon of sour cream into each plate.
Note: if you wish, you can add cut-up tomatoes or a tablespoon of tomato paste. Dried dill weed can be substituted with the fresh kind, and the beef or chicken can be substituted for the pork.