Russian cabbage soup or “shchi” (pronounced she) is a quintessential Russian dish dating back to the 9th century. There are as many variations of shchi as there are Russian people. The only constant is the cabbage. Depending on the season people would use fresh cabbage (mostly in summer and fall) or sauerkraut (winter and spring) when the fresh cabbage was not available. People used to grow their own vegetables back then and it was way before the era of the imported produce.
Cabbage soup also can be done “rich”, based on a flavorful beef bones broth or “empty” made with only vegetables or wild mushroom stock. It can be also done with greens like sorrel or spinach for light and nutritious green shchi. I guess it is just a personal preference.
This particular recipe is a real deal. Beef ribs are simmered for hours to create a luxurious and scrumptious broth filled with deep beefy flavors. The cabbage is then added together with the potatoes. I am only adding the rest of the veggies like carrots, onions and parsley while creating the stock. I really want the cabbage to steal the show in this soup and be the star.
I personally like my shchi with beef just for the extra nutritional value and more complex flavor combinations.
Meat and vegetables are perfect compliments to each other and my go-to everyday foods. Protein-rich beef makes this dish filling, satisfying and a true complete meal. The fat that is rendered from the meat while boiling adds a ton of mighty flavor. Bones and connective tissues release the collagen that is so good for you as well. This essential protein provides elasticity to the skin, helping it to appear more youthful and healthy. I am definitely in on that one.
Serve Russian cabbage soup with a slice of rustic, Russian rye bread, a dollop of sour cream and chopped up dill for an authentic Russian experience.