Shchi (Russian Cabbage Soup)

From the cookbook 'The Company of Independent Flavors'

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 have existed here since the 1920s. Borscht soup, chopped liver and a Russian egg used to wait for the Hebrew worker at these canteens. When they disappeared in the 1970s, all traces of Eastern European workers’ cuisine disappeared with them.

Later, in the 1990s, the post-Soviet Aliya took place. And although many of the immigrants of this aliyah left behind good professions to became ‘real’ workers – in cleaning, production lines, kitchens and more, there were no canteens serving delicacies from the various Soviet Union kitchens. In the ‘Commonwealth Of Independent Tastes: Recollections And Recipes Of Immigrants From The Former Soviet Union’ cookbook published by LunchBox Press, the second generation of this aliyah bring dishes from ‘over there’ back to the plate, here and now, including this recipe for 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.