Meat Solyanka is a well known Russian and Ukrainian soup with sour and smoked meaty flavour. There are meat, fish and vegetable (mushroom) Solyanka versions but today we are cooking the meat one. Russian barrel salted (not pickled!) cucumbers are always used in Solyanka and they give the soup that distinctive salty and sour taste. Sometimes some pickle brine is also added. In meat Solyanka you are supposed to use several types of meats (at least 3 different types), most of the meats should be smoked. Usually in Russia meat Solyanka would be cooked on the base of classical meat bouillon (broth). For meats in Solyanka soup all kinds of smocked supplies are used: ham, sausages, frankfurters, chicken, bacon and sometimes a typical Russian Doktorskaya ‘boiled’ sausage of Bologna type. It probably has to do with a total deficit of good meats in the Soviet era. Here in the UK I cook Solyanka soup (that my US husband loves very much!) with handy smoked meats you can find in any food store or at the local butcher. See the recipe of Solyanka soup and pictures below.
Russian meat Solyanka soup recipe
Ingredients for 4 helpings of Russian Solyanka meat soup:
- 1,2 litres (about 5 cups) low salt meat or chicken bouillon / stock (I use my own chicken stock that I make with very little salt). Alternatively you can use just water or half-and-half
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 1 large carrot grated
- 70 g pancetta or bacon chopped
- 100 g smocked cooking chorizo or other smoked pork sausage chopped
- 160 g smocked chicken breast (or other smocked meat) cubed
- 3 large barrel-salted cucumbers (available from a Russian, Polish or Lithuanian shop, in the US also available at deli individually packed as a snack) finely chopped
- 3 Tsp tomato purée
- 1/2 tsp paprika (smoked paprika is even better!)
- 1 large potato cubed into small cubes
- 2 Tsp capers (optional)
The amounts of meat ingredients for Solyanka soup are here for your guidance. Feel free to exchange and mix the meats to your liking or simply use what you have in hand. To serve:
- 1/2 of large lemon
- your favourite green, red or black olives to taste
- finely chopped dill and/or parsley
- black pepper
- sour cream or crème fraîche (optional)
In a deep pot put the bouillon for Solyanka soup on to warm it up. In a deep frying pan (like wok) fry pancetta, chorizo (bacon or/and any other cooking meat(s) you are using) on the medium fire. When the fat is melted out add chopped onion and grated carrot. Fry for a while but don’t let them get brown. Add chopped salty cucumbers and let cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato purée, paprika and capers, if you like them, mix all well and turn off the gas.
When the bouillon for Solyanka soup starts to boil add the cubed potato, let boil and then simmer for 5 minutes on a small heat. Now add the fried-up stuff into the Solyanka soup and add all the rest cubed smoked or un-smoked meats like chicken breast, beef tongue, etc. Let the Solyanka soup simmer slowly for 5-10 minutes, then taste for salt. If Solyanka soup is not salty enough, add some pickle brine into the soup. Turn off the fire, cover with the lid and let the Solyanka soup seat for several hours. This will make the soup better, believe me! Russian Solyanka soup is even better the next day!
Serve Russian meat Solyanka soup with a thin slice of lemon, chopped dill and/or parsnip and several olives in every bowl. Add sour cream to taste. Solyanka soup is great in a winter evening with some nice freshly baked bread, home made preferably! Give it a try and the Solyanka soup may become your favourite