I love making this Shchi - Russian Cabbage Soup Recipe when the weather gets cold. It's comforting to warm up with a hot bowl of home made soup, especially if it's a soup that you grew up with. Alongside Cabbage Piroshki, these are some of my favorite foods as a kid.
What is Russian Cabbage Soup?
Shchi soup has been eaten in Russia for about a 1000 years, every since cabbage was introduced to Russia. Shchi is a staple on every Russian table, usually served with sour cream and rye bread. There's a saying in Russian,"Щи да каша — пища наша." which means Shchi and kasha - are our food.
One of the main differences between Shchi and Borscht is the addition of beets. Shchi is like the soup base for borscht, growing up we just called all variations of Shchi as borscht (which wasn't technically correct). As similar as these soups are, they do have different names based on their recipes.
Another variation of Shchi Soup is called Green Borscht, if you add sorrel or spinach. Shchi can also be made with sauerkraut, which would be called a Sour Shchi. Check out my other popular Russian and Slavic soup recipes.
- Instant Pot Cabbage Soup with Sauerkraut
- Vegetarian Shchi
- Beef Borscht
- Sorrel Soup (Schavel)
- Ukha Fish Soup
Shchi with Meat
You can make this as a vegetarian recipe using vegetable stock, which is popular during Lent, or if you're a vegetarian! 🤣 However, I prefer more of a meaty cabbage soup. I always make my soup stock with meaty bones the night before in my Instant Pot. This allows me to 'assemble' the soup when I'm ready.
When making the bone broth for Shchi, it's best to use the meatiest beef bones you can find, so you can pick off the meat to use in your soup. You can buy soup stock, but it won't taste the same, and you won't have the extra meaty goodness.
How to Make Cabbage Soup
After you prepare the broth, it's time to prepare the rest of the soup!
- shred the cabbage
- cube the potatoes
- chop onion
- grate carrot
- chop tomatoes
- dice red pepper
Bring the stock to a boil and add the cabbage, bay leaf and potatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes. When you add the cabbage into the soup, it's going to seem like a lot, but it's ok, it cooks down significantly, trust me.
While it's simmering, caramelize onions and carrots in a frying pan until they start to lightly brown. Add the red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, finally adding the tomatoes. Throw it all together into the soup pot, including any meat from the bones and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Shchi Soup Variations
Most Shchi - Russian Cabbage soup aren't made with red peppers in the recipe. My mom always made it with red peppers, usually because we had them growing in the garden. There are many different variations of this soup, the further south you were located in Russia, the more likely you would add red peppers.
Cabbage soup is sometimes made with sauerkraut if fresh cabbage isn't available. Throw a small jar into this recipe, you'd be surprised how good it tastes in soup, adding just a bit of tang in the soup.
Can You Freeze Cabbage Soup?
Yes! The great thing about this recipe is that it freezes well. Just pop your leftovers in the freezer for an easy meal to be enjoyed another day!
This Shchi - Russian Cabbage Soup recipe is served with sour cream and rye bread. A hearty and delicious soup, perfect this fall or winter. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Shchi - Russian Cabbage Soup (Щи)
- 5 litres of beef stock
- ½ small cabbage chopped and shredded
- 3 medium potatoes cubed in small pieces
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 carrot grated
- 3 medium tomatoes chopped or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 small red pepper diced diced capsicum
- oil for frying
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped bunch of parsley and dill for garnish
- Make the beef stock, simmered and strained, enough for 5 litres. Can also use store bought stock. Bring to a boil.
- Add the shredded cabbage, bay leaf and diced potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked.
- While the soup is simmering, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Fry chopped onions and grated carrots until they start to lightly brown.
- Add the red pepper and fry for two minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes including juices and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the fried onion/tomato mixture and any meat from the soup bones to the soup when the potatoes are cooked. Stir and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add parsley and dill and serve with sour cream and rye bread.