What is Solyanka?

Solyanka may contain green olives.

Solyanka is a savory and spicy stew, mostly eaten in Russia and Ukraine. This stew broth dish usually includes meat, fish or mushrooms. While all three types are dishes called solyanka, each is unique. The vegetables in this dish usually include cabbage or sauerkraut, tomatoes and onions, but it can also contain olives or pickles. Solyanka is commonly flavored with lemon zest or lemon juice and is often served with a slice of fresh lemon on the side.

Sauerkraut is commonly an ingredient in solyanka.

The most popular variety of this dish in Ukraine, solyanka meat often contains cooked beef, chicken or pork, sometimes in the form of ham or sausage. To make this type of solyanka, vegetables and meat are cut into small pieces, mixed with herbs and added to the cream that is heating up in the pan. The broth is then added to the pot, which is slowly heated before the dish is served, usually in a bowl. This dish is usually served with a high-fat sour cream known as smetana.

Although Ukrainian versions of this dish often contain meat from land animals, most solyanka fish are eaten in Russia. The most common types of fish used in a solyanka fish are trout, sturgeon, and salmon, but it can also be made with a mixture of several types of fish. Freshwater crayfish, a small lobster-like crustacean, can also be used in this soup. Typically, this dish is flavored with lemon juice before serving.

The solyanka mushroom is considerably different from the fish and meat versions. It’s made by building layers of breadcrumbs with butter, sautéed tomato paste, and cabbage with mushrooms, and then baking the dish. Since it’s made with carefully constructed layers of braised cabbage and mushrooms, the mushroom variety is, in some ways, like a lasagna in broth without cheese.

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Some variations of this dish include fish. Mushroom solyankas are usually garnished with mushrooms and green olives. While not the traditional way to make the mushroom version of this dish, some cooks prepare solyanka meat or fish style, but they use mushrooms instead of meat or fish as the main ingredient. To keep it a vegetarian dish, solyanka mushroom is usually made with vegetable or mushroom broth.

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