oh SHCHI!!!

October 8, 2009 at 2:34 am | Posted in Soup | 32 Comments
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Actually I’m not cursing, this is the name of the Russian Soup I’m about to talk about.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I own a super-duper-super-secret soup-cookbook that I’m about to share with you.  It contains a  fabulous collection of unique cuisine built around traditional country ingredients like farm fresh chicken, wild mushrooms, greens, dried beans and even summer berries.  The book offers a “season of soups” featuring some of the best and unique recipes I’ve ever found using seasonal produce.  You’ll also find a basket of breads and salad tossing wisdom that’s very distinctive. 

The author is an award winning children’s book writer and author of other cookbooks.  I think that’s what makes this cookbook so unique, she’s an accomplished writer.  Printed in August of 1992, I think she was a blogger long before blogging existed.  Each recipe begins with a detailed story about the people who influenced the recipe, a story about serving and sharing the meal with friends, and what weather conditions or town events occured to influence the meal.   A menu example:

Dinner For Billy After He drove Through The Snow To Get Here

Salad of Sliced Tomatoes, Avocados and Red Onions on a Bed of Greens with Creamy Mexican Vinaigrette

Chicken and Cheese Soup with Green Chilis

Spanish Rice

Orange Pound Cake

Coffee or Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Sticks

Ahead of her time, she preaches to us to use fresh and locally grown ingredients, ALWAYS makes her own stock, and even goes so far to use spring water as opposed to tap water to do so. She dedicates one whole chapter to perfecting stocks. 

I love, love, love this cookbook.  The name of it is Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread,  A Country Inn Cookbook and the author is Crescent Dragonwagon.  Crescent and her husband owned a Bed and Breakfast in Eureuka Springs, Arkansas.  The recipes were inspired during that endeavor.   I usually prefer cookbooks with wonderful full-color photos to whet the appetite.  You won’t find any photos at all in this book.  But the charming dialog and descriptions will complete that picture in your mind. 

Warning, recipes found in this book aren’t your simple “open a can, thow in some spices, toss in some stew meat and in 10 minutes you’ve got  piping hot soup”  This is back to basics. Most recipes are at least 30 minutes of chopping and dicing fresh vegetables followed by long flavor enhancing simmer times. 


You can click on the picture and it will take you to the Amazon link.

The first recipe I have chosen to share is a Russian vegetable soup.  It’s by far, not the most interesting selection in the book, but I’ve been eating very rich fattening foods over the last week, and with no exercise (laid up due to the “flying man” incident).  So I needed something lean and healthy.  Something brothy, and comforting,  a slavic soul food sounded like just the right thing.  It’s intriguing sweet-sourness comes from cider vinegar, sauerkraut, raisins, prunes and honey.

If the prunes already haven’t, don’t let the lengthy list of ingredients scare you off.  I spent about 30 minutes with prep time and then you just let it simmer on the stove for an hour.  Pretty darn easy.


Gather ingredients.


Sautee all of the fresh chopped vegetables.


Look at those beautiful raisins.


Farmer’s Market had purple potatoes, so I decided to give them a try for this soup. 


Spoon the soup over the potatoes


Enjoy the unique flavors of this soup.

Joseph Saltzman’s Shchi (Russian Cabbage Soup, a family friend inspired recipe)

3 T. Butter

1 Large Onion, diced

1 Medium Carrot, scrubbed and chopped

1 Parsnip, scrubbed and chopped

1 1/2 Quarts Chicken Broth

1 1/2 Cups Green Cabbage, cut into ribbons

1 1/2 Cups sauerkraut well drained(do not use canned, use bottled in the refrigerated section)

1 Can Whole Tomatoes, buzzed in a food processor, or mashed to chunks

3 Cloves Garlic, pressed

1/4 C. Dark Raisins

1/4 C. Golden Raising

10 Pitted Prunes, diced

2 T. Honey, or more to taste

1 Bay Leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 – 8 Small Red-Skinned potatoes

Sour Cream for garnish

In a 10 inch skillet add the butter over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until soft, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add carrot, turnip and parsnip.  Continue cooking until vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the vegetables to a large soup pot and add all remaining ingredients except potatoes and sour cream. 

Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and let simmer, covered, about 1 hour.  Or until fruit has almost disintegrated into broth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.  The soup should be decidedly sweet and sour.  Adjust with honey and vinegar.

Towards end of simmering, boil potatoes until tender.

To serve, scoop a small amount of potatoes into soup bowl, ladle soup on top and add a dollop of sour cream.  Serve with a chunk of crusty bread and you’re good to go.




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  1. prunes and raisins in soup?!! WOW!!! That is one amazing bowl of deliciousness! amazing!

  2. While the title doesn’t ring a bell, the cover certainly does. I’ve seen this somewhere before but cannot recall where…Hm…I’ll probably think of it as I’m falling asleep or something. It looks like a great book to have around!

    • It is a great book. I’ve not even tried a lot of the breads. I will be doing so for my blog however

  3. That is my kind of cookbook. I am spoiled from blogging. I want a great recipe, AND a story.

    BTWm great story and recipe nice post

    • The cookbook is full of short interesting stories. Love this book. Just wait, there is are a lot more samplings from this book on their way.

  4. Interesting. I wonder if I could convince my girlfriend to try that soup…

    • If there’s a couple of ingredients that you think would scare her off, I’m sure you could omit and still have a delicious soup. (just not the vinegar, honey or sr. cream)

  5. Sounds yummy! I love cabbage and I love potatoes, put them in a soup and you’ve won me over!

    • Vanessa, this really is delicious. A mild combination of sweet and sour.

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog! It looks like you’ve got some great food on here. Soups are ideal for when you feel kind of overly stuffed. I love the looks of those blue potatoes, as well as all of the dried fruit that is in this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a soup with the latter ingredients.

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog. The soup sounds odd, but really is quite elegant tasting. The Sour Cream really brings it all together.

  7. Everybody is making something from cabbage this week!

    • It must be a “cabbage kind of week!” Are we all confused and think it’s March? 🙂

  8. Lovely story!! I must say your pictures are fabulous and this soup looks so delicious!!

    • Hey thanks so much. Appreciate your stop by my blog. This soup is good, that big dollop of sour cream really makes it yummy

  9. How neat! I’ve never seen a soup with raisins and prunes. What a very hearty soup and a great way to get fibre too. 😉

    • Never thought about the fiber part! Now I feel really healthy!

  10. Crescent Dragonwagon – what a name! This looks like such a hearty soup.

  11. This looks absolutely delicious! I’m sure my husband would love this too with nice some crusty bread 🙂

    • I served it with a nice crusty bread. It was delicious.

  12. I have another one of her books, I should check this one out – sounds right up my alley.
    What a fascinating soup – I have never had anything like it!

    • I have one other cookbook of hers also. A much smaller book. I’ll have to dig it out and look through it again. I don’t use it as much as this soup book.

  13. “Most recipes are at least 30 minutes of chopping and dicing fresh vegetables”

    So, perhaps soups aren’t any more healthy to eat than a bacon double cheeseburger after all, you just work off the extra calories while making it (ha ha ha)

    The purple potatoes were interesting looking!

    • Good, I’ll eat more bacon double cheeseburgers! 🙂

  14. Wow! My mother-in-law makes a version of shchi that has lots of fresh sorrel in it. Yum! Good luck with the flan!

    • Oh yes, sorrel would be wonderful. I’m adding it to the recipe. Thanks for the suggestion and stopping by my blog

  15. I have her Passionate Vegetarian book and now I think I may have to buy the soup book–it sounds charming and the soup looks great.

  16. Oooo, right up my alley! A recipe I can’t pronounce. 😀 And the flavor combination is so intriguing. Love it, gonna have to try it!

    • This soup is really very good. I really think the sour cream is a must here. Just creams it up and brings everything together.

  17. I must chime in and tell you that growing up in Russia I ate countless bowls of shchi, but we never ever put raisins and prunes in it…must be someone else’s spin on the recipe.

    But that’s what is great about cooking: you can let your own creativity shine!

    Btw, the sauce you made for enchiladas looks DIVINE! I’m making some beef enchiladas today, but using store-bought sauce.

    • I’m really glad you left a comment, as I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what is really authentic with this soup. The author’s comment was that it was a friend of the family’s recipe who was a Russian Immigrant. Is the rest of the recipe pretty accurate? All I know is that it was good!!!!!

      Some of that store bought enchilada sauce is pretty darn good.

      Thanks for stopping by

  18. My husband and I stayed at their in on the last weekend before they turned it into a writer’s getaway. I didn’t meet her, but talked a long time to her husband. He later was killed in a bike/car accident. It made me so sad. The cookbook is wonderful. I have it.~~Dee

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