Sunday, January 5, 2014


Spending the holiday seasons alone and abroad is pretty intimidating. It’s nice to have local friends to fill one’s free time. One night some of my friends came over to teach me how to make solyenka, a Russian meat soup.

I tried this soup first in a restaurant in Kazan and wasn’t impressed. But after discussing recipes at the banya with the ladies, I decided to give this soup another try, and it was so worth it. Think of it as a Russian pizza soup (minus the cheese and mayo). Or as some Russians advise me, it’s the best soup to cure a hangover.

Ingredients  (8-10 servings)
Four pieces of beef with bone (look for little fat, or cut this off before, and mostly bone)
1 lbs of beef, cubed
10 cups of water
A log of pepperoni, cut into matchsticks
4 hot dogs (We bought two different kinds, milk and “normal”), slice like coins
1/3 lb of cured ham, about a cm cubed
A jar of pickles (salted pickles, rather than vinegar pickles is more common here), cut into matchsticks
1 onion, diced
¼ cup of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 jar of whole green olives, sliced in half long-ways
1 can of black olives, sliced in half long-ways (Save the juice)
Salt to your taste
Lemon, capers, and sour cream for plating

1.       Place the beef in a large pot with water. Let water boil into a broth for about 2 hours. While the broth is developing take a spoon and scoop off the foam that forms on top. The foam isn’t necessarily a problem. Without it, the broth is more pure and looks prettier. You can make the broth at any time, just refrigerate until use.
2.      Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
3.       Place cured meats in a pan and place into the oven for 10-15 minutes. This allows you to throw away some of the fat.
4.       Place onion, pickles and tomato paste into a frying pan until onions are cooked. Add to broth.
5.       Add meats, bay leaves, olive juice and olives to soup.
6.       Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt to your taste.
7.       Cut the insides of the lemon in to eighths (no rind or pith). Place a lemon slice and a spoonful of capers at the bottom of each bowl. Then ladle the soup on top and add a dollop of sour cream on top.  Enjoy!