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Monday, March 5, 2007

Cabbage -- The Soup Diet, Russian Authentic Cabbage Soup

The Cabbage Soup Diet's idea is pretty much the same as the Negative Calorie Diet. Some feel that, though the diet is effective in helping them lose weight, it's boring. Being a Russian, I habitually respect this dish and tend to disagree. Cabbage soup has been a staple in Russian cuisine for more than a thousand years. There were never any social barriers in cooking these soups - "Schi": all social groups cooked this dish using almost the same recipes (give or take the beef part). There are numerous regional and seasonal varieties, including those in accordance with the Russian Orthodox calendar requiring strictly vegetarian menus at least twice a week.

The cooking technique was always the same, using a very special Russian hearth. The cooking is done not on top but within the hearth, which has a brick arch above the hot surface and a special door closing the arch's insides. A fire was lighted only once during the day, but the thick brick walls kept the heat for up to 24 hours, so the pots inside were warm even a day after the cooking, allowing a cooking that resembles that of a crock pot. This technique is considered a healthy one because it allows minimal heating time and preserves the nutrients.

Below is a classic example of "Schi," called the "Full Schi," which means that it includes the full set of ingredients.

Russian Authentic Cabbage Soup

15 g carbohydrate in a 1.5 cup serving.


1 1/2lb. beef
1 1/2lb. sauerkraut
3 oz dried mushrooms
1/2 c pickled mushrooms (optional)
1/2 carrot, shredded
1 potato, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2c celery root, chopped
1/2 c celery stalk and leaf, chopped
1 T dill herb
3 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 T sunflower oil
1 T heavy cream
1/2 c sour cream
8 peppercorns, whole
1 t dried marjoram


Boil the beef with half of the onions, carrots and celery in 2 liters of water for 2 hours. After 1 hour, add salt to taste. Drain, then cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, reserving the broth.

In a large ovenproof bowl, pour 1 liter boiling water over the sauerkraut, add the oil and the hard cream. Cover the bowl and place it in the oven at medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the sauerkraut is soft.

Put the mushrooms and potatoes into a saucepan; add 2 cups cold water and boil until the mushrooms and potatoes are tender. Remove mushrooms and cut into thin strips. Mix all cooked ingredients with the broth. Add salt and boil for 20 minutes more. Set aside, cover with a thick cloth and let set for 20 minutes. If desired, add pickled mushrooms to each serving. Serve with beef, sour cream, garlic and fresh finely chopped dill.

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