Saturday, November 30, 2013

Russian Style Hearty Cabbage Soup

This recipe comes from "The Victory Garden Cookbook" by Marian Morash. It was given to me by Jean Lair Smith. It was one of her and Russell's favorite cookbooks. Here is the recipe/commentary verbatim. 

Here's a flavorful blend of cabbage, sauerkraut, short ribs, and vegetables.  This soup takes a while to cook, but it is well worth the time.  I prefer it served the same day, although it can be served 1-2 days later.  Be sure to have some good black bread on hand.

4 lb. short ribs
1 meaty shinbone (optional)
1 lb marrow bones
1 large onion
1 large turnip
2 carrots
2 cups beef broth
8 cups water
2 T. tomato paste
Herb bouquet:
   4 sprigs parsley
   4 sprigs dill
   3 cloves garlic
   1 t. thyme
   1 bay leaf
2 leeks (white portions only)
2 celery stalks with leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 - 3 lb. green cabbage
1 lb. sauerkraut
3 T. oil
3 T. butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 T. sugar
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped dill

Place the ribs, shinbone, and marrow bones in a baking pan. Halve the onion, turnip, and carrots, and add to the pan.  Brown in a preheated 500° oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place the meat, bones, and vegetables in a large stockpot. Remove the grease from the baking pan, pour broth into the pan, and cook over high heat until all the brown bits are incorporated into the broth. Add the broth to the stockpot along with the water, tomato paste, herb bouquet, leeks, celery, and 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring the broth to a boil, skim, and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours.

Shred the cabbage into 1/4 inch slices. You will have approximately 14 cups. Rinse the sauerkraut in fresh water; squeeze dry. Melt the oil and butter in a large pan, and sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery until wilted, approximately 10 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook over low heat until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the liquid from the stockpot, partially cover pan, and braise for 30 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure the liquid has not evaporated, adding more if necessary; set aside.

When the stock is cooked, discard the vegetables, shinbone, and marrow bones, and degrease. (The shinbone meat is good for nibbling.) Then add the cabbage mixture along with the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and sugar. Simmer 30 minutes longer. Season to taste. Ladle into big bowls, top with spoonfuls of sour cream, and sprinkle with dill. (serves 6-8)

Notes: Jesse, I think this recipe is a 2 day project because if you want to degrease the stock properly, it really needs to be refrigerated. The congealed fat is so much easier to remove. 
Here are some other changes that I either chose or were forced to make: I substituted 3 lbs. of shank bones for all the bones/meat called for. The bones were meaty and needed a full 40 minutes to brown. (recipe calls for 20) Instead of deglazing the pan by heating broth into it, I poured a cup of boiling water into the pan and deglazed, then adjusted the amount of water accordingly. I left out the leek and also the fresh dill in the herb bouquet. I used only 1T. sugar and adjusted the lemon juice to 3T. I used a good quality sauerkraut: "Boarshead". I used only 1 T. each of oil and butter to sauté the onion, carrot, and celery. Finally I did not peel or seed the tomatoes. 
To serve, we put dijon mustard on the meat because that's the way my father used to like it.
Good luck. Bon Appétit!


  1. I made this over three days. It is really a lot of work but it makes more than a gallon of very rich stew.

    On the first day I made 3c of beef stock using a pound of beef neckbones browned in the oven. To get all of the flavor out of beef bones takes 10--12 hours.

    On the second day I roasted 1lb shin bones, 4lbs short ribs and the vegetables for 30 mins and deglazed with the previous day's brown stock. I didn't get much fond on the bottom because I used a thin lasagne pan. Next time I would opt for a thicker bottom roasting pan to get more fond to deglaze. Making the broth as directed I removed the meat and vegetables and degreased it (2 hours in the fridge was long enough for the fat layer to coalesce and solidify; i just removed it with a shallow wire strainer of the type used for deep frying).

    On the third day I made the rest of the soup. They say the shin bones are good for nibbling so I just left them in. I used a cheap sauerkraut since I had already spent enough on the short ribs.

    It does make a lot so you need a big pot to fit all the cabbage.

  2. I can't believe you went to so much work to make your own beef broth, Jesse!
    How did it compare to mine?