This restorative beef and cabbage soup will give you the energy you need in the dead of winter!
I am sure we are not the only family longing for something healthier right after all the Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities. We are also probably not alone in our desire for comfort food, which is often synonymous with “heavy, creamy and cheesy”. Often but not always. This beef and cabbage soup combines the healthy and comforting in one delicious and a very pretty bowl!
I learned making soups from my mum and my grandma. I always thought soup was the easiest and simplest thing to make in the kitchen as it is an absolutely staple in Russia. Every lunch starts with a soup of some kind as a first course. Russian soups are so hearty that many don’t ever move to the second course! The tradition states that a spoon should be able to stand in your soup pot to determine how successful it it! Joking aside, a proper Russian soup is meant to be thick and nourishing.
The recipe for this beef and cabbage soup I am sharing today is exactly how my mum made it. I have to admit that I hadn’t made it in a while but as soon as I could smell it bubbling away on the stove, I was right there, in my mom’s kitchen. It’s amazing how food can transport us in time!
As I mentioned I’d always thought soup making was easy and everyone knew how to do it until I started hearing various comments from friends and readers that they struggled with soups, and found it difficult not to end up with something watery and bland. Hmmm…I think I can help!!
In my humble opinion the success of any soup rests in the stock or broth, whatever you want to call it.
Like I said, this recipe for beef and cabbage soup also known as ‘Shchi’ in Russia is my mother’s recipe, and she always started all her soups by making a rich meat broth in a pressure cooker, so I did exactly that. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can easily do it on a stove top but it will take triple the time. Pressure cooker is great when you are short on time!
Another flavour trick that I always use is sauteing carrots and onions in a little bit of butter and adding them to the soup at the very end. Italians call it “soffritto“, the French call it “mirepoix” and my mum and many other Russian mums call it “zapravka“, which in Russian means something along the lines of a “dressing”. Feel free to add celery as well but it is not very Russian and I am not a huge fan, so I don’t. If you add your onions and carrots raw to the broth, they will only taste so good but sauteing them in butter adds a whole lot of flavour.
And lastly adding fresh herbs like flat leaf parsley and dill once a soup is cooked take it to another level of delicious, the level where even children eat soup!! So there you have it.
Three main tips to make better soups:
- Flavourful broth
- Soffritto, mirepoix or zaprvaka
- Fresh herbs
For more soup recipes check out my Soup Archives!
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 carrot, cut in 3-4 pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 whole peppercorns
- a pinch of salt
- 2 litres/8 cups water
- 1 lb stewing beef
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- ⅓ small savoy or white cabbage, sliced/ approximately 2 cups
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp of each chopped parsley and dill
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream for serving
- If using a pressure cooker, combine all the ingredients for the broth and cook for 30 minutes in manual mode. Increase the time to 1½ hours if using a stove top method.
- At the end of the cooking time remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the broth through a fine sieve for a clear broth. Discard the vegetables and spices.
- In a soup pot combine the broth, beef and potatoes and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile saute the shredded carrots and onions with butter over low heat until tender and the onions translucent, approximately for 10 minutes.
- After the soup boils, add the cabbage and the sauteed carrots and onions, cook for 5 minutes longer and turn it off. (It's very important not to overcook the vegetables!)
- Add chopped fresh parsley and dill and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.