With great pleasure I am happy to introduce you to one of my favorite soups – pickled soup (or “rassolnik” in Russian). This is traditional soup of peasants and farmers, people working the land - hearty, tasty and cheap to cook. Today’s “rassolnik” is direct descendant of picked dishes of traditional Russian cuisine, some of which included pirogue with stuffing soaked in cucumber or any other spicy brine. Four main varieties of “rassolnik” are made either with meat, fish, vegetable or giblets broth and pickles is mandatory ingredient in all of these varieties.
For more Russian recipes, visit Russian Cuisine page.
For the stock:
- 1 1/2 - 2 lb. beef short rib, cut into chops
- 1 medium onion
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 fresh thyme springs
For the soup:
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- 1 big white potato, peeled and diced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
- 3-4 medium pickles, finely diced
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- fresh herbs to serve (optional)
- sour cream to serve (optional)
Put about 10 cups of the water and the beef short ribs in large pan with the onion, garlic, bay leaf and springs of thyme. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until the beef is tender. In a process skim off any impurities that rise to the top to keep your soup clear and add more water if need it. Strain the broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into the bowl. Discard the vegetables and the bones (optional), save the beef. Pour the broth back to the pan and add the beef.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, add onion, carrot, parsnip and pickles. Cook gently, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Rinse the perl barley thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water, then cook in a large pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse well and drain thoroughly.
Add the barley and potato to the stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, until the barley and potato are just cooked and tender.
Add the onion mixture to the soup and bring to the boil. Cook for another few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Ladle the soup into soup plates or bowls. Serve hot with a tablespoon of sour cream (optional).