“Schie” the worker’s soup from “Mother Russia”

In Recipies on February 28, 2011 at 11:38 am


Meatless, satisfying, fast, and economical...that's "schie"!

Hungry workers of the world, unite!



Wages, if you are fortunate enough to have a job, are flat.  A recent article in Phyne’s local newspaper says wages are 25% lower than they were in 2008.  Engineering graduates are waiting tables.  Small business owners are frantically searching for another corner to cut in order to make ends meet.  Former managers juggle two (or three) part-time jobs, or toil at low status jobs they once hired “others” to do.  Eating “out” has become a memory for many and they come home, exhausted, to a cold stove, or shove some pre-packaged “something” into the microwave before falling into their beds.


The last thing these workers need is another pretentious review of someone else’s foi gras.


What if they could make a homemade soup, from “scratch”, almost as fast as opening a can of pre-made, store-bought soup?  What if all of the ingredients for such a soup only cost a few dollars, yet could feed their hungry family?  What if this soup used no meat?  What if such a soup could be cooked while they change out of their workaday clothes?


It can!


Phyne Dyning is proud to present schie, the worker’s cabbage soup from Mother Russia.


While we often think of Russian food as being course, stout, or downright heavy, schie is anything but those things.  It is a light, yet highly satisfying, vegetarian soup.


But this is no watery cabbage soup from the gulag kitchen.  This is not a soup that sits, simmering its promise, for hours on the stove.  The ingredients can be prepared in about ten minutes and cooks in less than thirty.


“Light” does not imply a watery, tepid base with a few leaves of cabbage floating in it.  Perhaps “bright” is a better descriptive adjective for schie.  While much of the brightness comes from the vegetables, schie gets its brilliance from…


Wait for it!!!


…pickle juice.


Come back!


Adding acid to soups is well known to professional cooks and chefs.  They use lemon juice, vinegar, wine, cider, or even whole apples to give soups a bright flavor.  Without a bit of acidity, a soup can remain flat and emotionless.


Novice cooks sometimes think flat soups need more salt and they hopefully add more and more salt until the result is highly salty, colored water.  Sometimes, just a teaspoon of lemon juice is enough to wake up the soup flavor…and use less salt.

The workers need a hearty soup that can be prepared in a short time and at minimal cost per serving.


So, here it is…schie.


1 large onion (think softball-size or bigger) thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium turnip diced

3 carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 potato peeled and cut into large dice

1 TBS dried dill weed

1 C WHITE, button mushrooms thick sliced

½ head of green cabbage coarsely chopped or shredded (about 1 ½ pounds).

4 C vegetable broth (or chicken stock)

¼ C olive oil

¼ tsp white pepper

4 bay leaves

2-3 TBS kosher DILL pickle juice

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and turnip.  Sprinkle a PINCH of kosher salt over the vegetables as they cook.  Cook until the onion begins to get translucent (about 10 minutes), be careful not to brown the vegetables.  Add the bay leaves, potato, half of the dill, mushrooms, and vegetable broth (or chicken stock).  Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Be careful not to overcook the soup into “mush”.  The soup only needs to cook about 20-25 minutes (until the potato is easily forked).  Just before serving, add in the rest of the dill and the 2-3 TBS of pickle juice and stir.  Serve a hearty helping of the vegetables, surrounded by a bit of broth.  Season generously with ground black pepper.  Serves well with a crusty bread…such as a baguette.


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