EAST GERMAN SOLJANKA

I love making soups — cold in summer and warm in winter.  I just tried this one, a recipe featured in the current issue of the magazine German Life, http://www.germanlife.com, from my friend and food writer Sharon Hudgins, http://www.sharonhudgins.com   It’s a keeper.  Sharon writes that Soljanka is “a hearty stew of Russian and Ukrainian origin, usually made with leftover meats perked up with pickles, olives, capers and lemon” which was popular in East Germany during the socialist era. It’s so good, it stayed on restaurant menus after the Russian troops went home.  This recipe makes 10 cups or 6 large servings.

1/4 pound (4 ounces) bacon, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon sweet (mild) paprika

1/4 cup tomato paste

3/4 pound (12 ounces) cooked sausages (such as frankfurters, bockwurst, knackwurst, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds — I used Alsatian knackwurst)*

1/4 pound (4 ounces) cooked ham, cut into strips or cubed

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4 small or 2 medium sour dill pickles, seeded and cut into thin strips, 2 inches long

7 cups beef stock

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pitted whole black or green olives

1 tablespoon pickled capers

Fresh lemon slices (garnish)

Sour cream (garnish)

*or a total of a pound of leftover cooked  meat

Heat the bacon and oil together in a  large soup pot over medium heat to melt some of the bacon fat.  Increase heat to medium-high , add the onions, saute until they are golden.  Reduce heat to low, stir in the garlic and paprika, and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.    Quickly stir in the tomato  paste.

Add the meats, pickles, stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring soup to a boil over  high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.  Add the olives and capers, and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Serve hot, each bowl garnished with 2 thin slices of lemon and a large dollop of sour cream.