Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi)
Sauerkraut soup? In this homey Russian-inspired treat, sauerkraut proves a flavorful and tangy base for this hearty, winter-cold cutting soup that’s actually quite veggie-full and nourishing. A simple supper paired with good rye bread or Coriander Rye Muffins, swirled with a touch of Sour Dilly Cream.
There are two ingredients that are essential for a successful shchi: a richly flavored vegetable broth and good quality sauerkraut. Use the richest, darkest, most full bodied broth or bouillon you can find: I use a faux-beef flavored or mushroom flavored broth (the Better than Bouillon brand here in the U.S.), making it somewhat more concentrated that as directed. In general I recommend using bouillon cubes, powders or pastes over boxed broth as you can control the flavor concentration. For the sauerkraut, avoid the lifeless canned stuff in favor of high-quality ‘kraut sold in jars or plastic bags in the refrigerated section; even better, if you can buy it in bulk from barrels in some Kosher or Eastern European markets. You’ll be using some of the juice so be sure to set some aside!
This soup is thick, but you can even further enrich it by adding sliced fresh cabbage or bits of sauteed seitan in the variations listed below.
Tip: Clean the leek by slicing it in half nearly to end of the root, then gently spreading apart the leaves under running water to clean out any grit.
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean
- 1 large leek, root and dry leafy ends trimmed, 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 more vegetable broth)
- 2 cups parsnip or potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
- 2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, undrained and with juices
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut juice (or more vegetable broth)
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Few twists cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
1. Slice mushroom caps in half, then slice the cap parallel 2-3 times to create small bite-sized mushroom pieces. In a large 4 quart soup pot over medium-high heat saute diced leek, carrot, celery in vegetable oil for 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and mushrooms and saute for another 6-8 minutes, or until mushrooms have reduced in size and released most of their liquid. Pour in the wine and simmer for 3 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.
2. Simmer the soup for 35-40 minutes or until the parsnip/potato are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves, turn off the heat and season with salt if necessary (it may not be if the broth is salty enough) and cracked black pepper. Let stand 10 minutes before garnishing with parsley and serving topped with a spoonful of Sour Dilly Cream and serve.
Smokey Shchi with Seitan & Cabbage
For an extra hearty, smoky kick add fresh cabbage, liquid smoke and sizzling seitan!
Stir in towards the last 15 minutes of simmering:
- 2 cups thinly sliced Savoy or green cabbage
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
In a skillet over medium heat, fry 2 cutlets of Coriander Seitan diced into 1/2 inch pieces along with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until the edges are browned and crisped. Top each serving with cubes of fried seitan.