Monday, 25 March 2013

Russian vegan mushroom soup with pickles!

It is week one of the Russian Orthodox Lent. Russian Easter falls on the 5th of May, so people are only now starting to fast. And Russian Orthodox fast is strict: no meat, eggs or dairy.  Fish is only allowed twice. So, vegan they turn.

To mark this occasion I thought I could make a nice and simple Russian vegan mushroom soup. It is called Solyanka - which means 'salty' and it is a bit salty, as gherkins and capers are added. It is a bit unusual, but well worth trying. And believe you me, it's not the weirdest thing we eat! (And in the Soviet time it was a bit of a luxury too. Mushrooms, capers, olives and even lemons were hard to come across).

Mushroom Solyanka
(from The Practical Encyclopedia of East European Cooking)
(my photo doesn't do it justice)

Makes 4 portions

The Ingredients

About 500g mixed mushrooms (you can get away with just one variety, like button mushrooms, but I find it's a bit more fun when you have a variety).
just over 1 liter of veg stock
2 onions diced
1tbsp tomato puree
a few small gherkins
1 tbsp capers
Olives and a slice of lemon to serve (rather important, or it won't be a true Solyanaka)
Olive oil (optional)
A few leaves of parsley to garnish (optional)

The method: 

You can either saute onions in a little oil and fry mushrooms in oil beforehand, or go oil free.  

Stage 1: For the latter, saute the onions in a little bit of stock, add the rest fo the stock, all the mushrooms, cover and cook for 30 min or so. 

Go to stage 2.

I did it a bit differently. I sautes the mushrooms in a bit of oil, I also sauted the mushrooms in some oil. I used a mixture of button and oyster mushrooms.

I then put it all in a pot with the stock and cooked for 20 min. Then I did Stage 2.

Stage 2: While the mushrooms are cooking, mix the tomato puree with a bit of stock or water. Slice the gherkins and drain the capers.

Add the tomato puree and capers and gherkins to the soup. Cook for 10 more min. Season at the end, as the pickles add saltiness to the dish.

Now serve with a few olives and a think slice of lemon. Garnish with parsley.

If you are not vegan or doing Russian Lent - add some sour creme,

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