Saturday, October 09, 2010

Today on "Cooking with Joe"

A Legacy left behind by the Red Army: Soljanka

Of which there were very few, but like that evil genius Ripley’s love of Gulasch, mine is a weakness for Soljanka, a picante soup made popular among Eastern Germans by way of contact with their Soviet military comrades / douchebags / occupiers.

I have translated the recipe from the original Klingon, to which I’ve added my personal touches:

- 200 g /7-8 oz. of Yellow onion, finely chopped (avoid the vidalias or any new-fangled mild varieties)
- 100 g /3-1/2 oz. of unsliced bacon, cubed into small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 100 g /3-1/2 oz. of Tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of Paprika
- 2 medium sized pickles (dill or sour are best), “julienne” cut to the extent one can with a pickle
- 500 g of meat: sausage, leftovers, or trimmed tips of pork or ham (anything, really, even leftover chicken!)
- (Add a tbp. of butter, if the meats are all lean.)
- 1,5 liters/ 3 pints of Beef stock (powdered stock may also be used, but omit the salt if you do)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of capers

For decoration:

- Thin lemon wedges (thin sliced rings cut into triangles)
- Sour crème
- Dill


- Parsley
- A few sliced olives, or any other pickled favorites.
- Pepperoncini (one of my favorites)


Sauté the onions and bacon in the bottom of your soup pot, until the onions clarify. Do not let them brown.
Add all of the meats, pickles, and paprika for a few moments until they soften.
Then pour in the soup stock.
Add the lemon wedges to the stock, salt and pepper to taste.
Let it come to a boil, and then let it simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes.
Just prior to serving, add the capers, and all the optional faves, as well as the sour crème dollop right in the middle of the bowl.

Decorate with small lemon wedges an a small dollop of sour crème. Some prefer the sour crème “on the side”, or otherwise spoon out the amount they deem excessive prior to stirring it in. Some the dill reserved from preparation is also a good thing to drizzle on top.

Makes 4 servings, or 2 if served without any other dish. Serve with rye or black bread on the side, the gamiest smelling type that you can find.

This is one of the simpler recipes, prone to a more pickle dominated taste, but is easily tempered by using a little bit more bacon or sausage.

Click on the photo for an excellent Ukranian Soljanka recipe, which has a much fresher taste, not masked as heavily by the tomato paste. It should take on the taste of creative variations more readily.