Old World Tuesday: The Russian Pickle Soup

March 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s Tuesday and we are going to cook up another Russian classic – rassolnik – or “pickle soup,” so named for the pickles and pickle juice that figure prominently in the recipe. The Russians, you know… they use pickle juice for many things, including a folk remedy for hangover.

Because of these ingredients, this beef-and-vegetable soup has a wonderfully tangy touch, and the firm, crunchy pickles add an unexpected special something to the texture. Just look at it, isn’t it beautiful?


(Russian Pickle Soup)

Note that I am not providing you with the exact measurements here, because, for one,  I don’t usually measure when I cook, and because you probably don’t measure when you cook either, so feel free to adjust the amounts to you liking.

  • beef stock
  • cubed cooked beef (I threw a round steak in with my soup bones when I was making the stock), optional
  • potatoes, cubed
  • carrots, chopped
  • onions, chopped
  • a few pickles, diced
  • pickle juice/brine
  • pearl barley, cooked separately until almost done (you will need 4-to-1 water to barley ratio)
  • parsley, chopped
  • a couple of bay leaves if using store-bought stock
  • a clove or two of garlic, pressed
  • several canned tomatoes, chopped, along with their canning liquid
  • 2-3 T tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream, for serving

In a large dutch oven, saute onions and carrots in butter until they begin to brown. Stir in tomato paste. Add stock, barley, potatoes, beef, and bay leaf, if using. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, pickles, and pickle juice to taste, depending on how tangy you like it, and simmer for another ten minutes or so.  Adjust seasonings and add pressed garlic and parsley to the pot. If you like a milder garlic taste, add it earlier. Serve with sour cream.

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