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Russian Cabbage Soup

Does anyone have a recipe for that sweet/sour, tomato-based Russian cabbage soup? I know it's sometimes made with sauerkraut, sometimes without, and often includes stew meat cut into small cubes.

I had a bowl of this at Max's Opera Cafe the other day, and I would love to be able to make it at home. They used brisket instead of stew meat, and I know there were carrots and tomato-based products involved, but beyond that I'm clueless! Please help!

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  1. My family ethnic heritage is Hungarian Jewish, but here is a recipe for a sweet/sour cabbage soup:

    3-4 lbs. beef short ribs
    2 T olive oil
    2 T beef base
    28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
    3 T brown sugar
    2 large onions, chopped
    salt & pepper
    1 large cabbage, cut in quarters, cored, and finely sliced
    1/3 cup white wine vinegar
    4 qt. water

    Brown short ribs in olive oil till well carmelized in 8 qt. soup pot. Remove, reserve for later. In same pot, cook onions till carmelized (15-20 min). Return short ribs, add cabbage and cook till cabbage is "sweated", or starting to turn translucent. Add tomatoes, beef base, sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper and cover with 4 qt. cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste when finished and adjust seasoning, perhaps more s/p, sugar, or vinegar. Let pot sit overnight in fridge when cooled, then you can easily remove any fat. Remove short ribs and shred or dice meat in small pieces, return meat (not bones) to pot. This improves with age, can be kept a week or fridge (not in original pot) or frozen for several months.

    You mentioned carrots, I have never added carrots, but I suppose you could add 3-4 scraped, chopped carrots when you sweat other vegetables. If you do this, please report how it turned out. Enjoy!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Diane in Bexley

      I forgot to mention that if you add some meatballs made with ground beef, rice & eggs to this soup, you get a "mock" stuffed cabbage dish.

      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        I am anxious to taste this soup, it looks so delicious and satisying, and so different! I am such a huge fan of soup, thanks for the recipe!

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          This recipe inspired me to finally make a sweet and sour cabbage soup. I didn't have short ribs or beef on hand, but I had a can of consomme, a cabbage, tomatoes, brown sugar & white wine vinegar, so I decided to give it a try. Also added 2 carrots, a stalk of celery, some sweet paprika, thyme, caraway & dill. Turned out great, look forward to trying your family's version when I pick up some beef short ribs!

          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            I always use 4 GOOD sized carrots, scraped, and sliced 1/2". Imparts additional sweetness and taste. Must cook till tender. I dont like to sweat the carrots with the onions. Also, a BAY LEAF adds an additional layer of flavor. I don't use wine vinegar. Just plain old 5% cheap vinegar works.
            My wife and my grown children's favorite soup

          2. That sounds like a wonderful recipe! Thank you so much =)

            1. Here's a similar recipe that my family loves. I'm big on soup, and really try to avoid pre-made ingredients, but the chili sauce and the ginger ale really do add a nice twist to this soup. It was hard for me to try this one, but once I did, it quickly became a favorite. http://www.recipesonrails.com/recipes...

              BTW, it looks like I confused some pictures. There's clearly leeks in the 2nd picture. That was probably a stock picture and not from the cabbage soup, not that you couldn't add leeks too :)

              1. I think you mean щи, which is usually transliterated "schi." There were lots of results when I Googled this, some of which sounded like what you'd had. (There are a few varieties of schi.)

                1. Alright, so I made a batch of what I now know is schi, and it was delicious! I just threw ingredients into a pot and let it simmer. Didn't even sauté the onions in oil or brown the meat, so the recipe was very healthy! You could make it less salty by using "no salt added" diced tomatoes, and/or using less broth and more water.

                  2 pounds of brisket, cut in 1" cubes
                  1 large onion, in large dice
                  2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
                  1 medium green cabbage, chopped into 1" square pieces
                  1 28oz can diced tomatoes
                  2 cans beef broth + 1 can water
                  2 tablespoons brown sugar
                  2 tablespoons white vinegar
                  1/2 cup ketchup
                  1 bay leaf

                  Simmer until the brisket is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Also, like a lot of soups, this recipe tastes even better the next day.