Solyanka, a meat-based hot and sour soup, originates from Russia and Ukraine. Because it can be made with any leftover meat, and because anything Soviet was highly encouraged in the former GDR, it became a staple in East German cuisine. Wherever you went, Solyanka was the soup of the day. It still is immensely popular in the German East, and although I wasn’t a big fan as a child, I now adore it for both its taste and the memories of bygone times.
There are many different kinds of Solyanka, and countless recipes. The following is my mum’s, although she probably got it from a GDR cookery book. I don’t know how authentic it is, but it tastes great!
- 400g diced pork, although you can use any cooked leftover meat
- A jar of hot dog sausages, finely cut. Often Solyanka only contains sausage and no fresh meat, in which case you need two jars or packs.
- A few slices of salami (optional)
- 3 onions, chopped
- A tin of chopped tomatoes
- 8 – 10 pickled cucumbers
- Some tomato puree or passata
- 1 lemon, in wedges
- Salt, pepper, bay leaf, sambal or chilis
- Sour cream
- Fry the meat, add sausage and salami.
- Add the bay leaf, fill pan with water (use quite a lot, Solyanka is not meant to be very thick). Leave to simmer for a while.
- Add tomatoes, passata, onions and pickled cucumbers. Add some cucumber water for authenticity.
- Season (don’t hold back on the sambal, it’s meant to be spicy!) Leave to simmer for an hour.
- Before serving, add lemon wedges.
- Serve with sour cream and crusty bread.
I regularly overdose on this soup — it’s that amazing. I have had it with added sauerkraut as well, which ups the sourness. Just experiment until you find your perfect Solyanka recipe.