Shchi (Russian Cabbage Soup)

From the “Commonwealth of Independent Tastes” cookbook

3 hours

Serves 8-12

Russian cabbage soup in white enamel pot on top of wooden cutting board

Photo by Sivan Moloko, Styling by Guy Cohen

Cooperative socialist workers’ kitchens were a staple of Mandatory Palestine and in the 1920s, borscht, chopped liver, and a Russian egg used to await “Hebrew workers” at these canteens. When they disappeared in the 1970s, all traces of Eastern European workers’ cuisine vanished with them. So, when a wave of Soviet Jews arrived after the fall of the USSR, there were no canteens serving the foods they knew from home. 

In the cookbook “Commonwealth of Independent Tastes: Recollections and Recipes of Immigrants From The Former Soviet Union,” the second generation of this Aliya celebrates these dishes like this sauerkraut soup.


800 grams (1.7lb) beef shin, cut into 4cm (1½-in) cubes

1 parsley root, peeled and halved

2 onions, one halved

2 carrots, peeled, one halved 

4 dry bay leaves

6 allspice peppercorns

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm (0.8-in) cubes

3 tablespoons oil

2½ cups (300 grams) thinly sliced sauerkraut

  1. Place the meat, halved vegetables, bay leaves, allspice, salt and pepper in a large 5-liter/quart pot. Pour 3 liters/ quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam and scum that rises to the surface, reduce to a low heat and gently simmer for 2 hours, while covered, until the meat is tender.
  2. Remove the halved vegetables, bay leaves and allspice from the pot and add the diced potato. Taste the soup, adjust the seasoning, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to  medium heat and cook for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining onion and grate the carrot using a grater. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and carrot over medium-high heat until the vegetables soften and turn slightly golden.
  4. Add the vegetables and sauerkraut to the pot. Add some more black pepper and salt to taste.
  5. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat and serve hot with sour cream (optional).