Rassolnik is a traditional Russian soup made from pickled cucumbers, pearl barley, and pork or beef kidneys. A vegetarian variation of rassolnik also exists, usually made during Lent. The dish is known to have existed as far back as the 15th century, when it was called kalya. Rassolnik became part of the common Soviet cuisine and today it is also popular in Ukraine and Belarus. A similar dish is common in Poland, where it is known as zupa ogórkowa (literally cucumber soup).
The key part of rassolnik is the rassol, a liquid based on the juice of pickled cucumbers with various other seasonings. It is a favourite hangover treatment.
- 8 cups beef stock , see notes
- ½ cup thinly sliced beef steak , optional(see notes)
- 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup pearl barley, rinsed
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, minced or finely diced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 cup grated gherkins , dill pickles
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring the beef stock to a boil in a large stockpot.
- Add the sliced steak, diced potatoes and rinsed barley to the stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep covered as it cooks, stirring gently occasionally.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet. Add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the grated carrots have softened. Add to the soup.
- Grate the gherkins and add to the soup. (You can also add a couple of tablespoons of the pickling brine to the soup to pep up the flavour.)
- Cook for a further 30 minutes, until the potatoes and barley are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Garnish the soup with some finely minced herbs such as parsley, dill, chives, or spring onions (scallions) and serve with a dollop of sour cream.