Summer brings a lot of changes to one’s life no matter whether you spend this time in a stuffy office or in countryside. Summer also colors your diet with new flavors. So, it is important not to waste a moment and try all seasonal dishes. Summer food is lighter as it includes many vegetables and fruits.
Green sorrel soup or shchi is a perfect example of seasonal dish which is cooked with fresh, young greens such as sorrel, nettle and spinach. Piquant sour taste makes this soup standout among other refreshing dishes.
The main principle in cooking shchi lays in the fact that all ingredients are added fresh, not heat treated, same as in the recipe of fish soup Ukha. Although, in the ancient recipes the greens were stewed with a lot of grease which allowed to save the bright green color. Indeed, sorrel loses its color during boiling, this is why it is necessary to add it to the soup in the very last turn. Thus it saves its vitamins and pleasant sourness.
Speaking of sorrel soup, it is needed to point out that this traditional Russian soup emerged in 11-12 century with the widespread of cabbage in Rus. There are several versions of the origin of the word “shchi”. According to the first version the word originated from ancient Russian word “съто” which means “food”, or “съти” which stands for “hot broth”. The second version suggest that the word “shchi” has the same root with the Dutch word “sky” which can be translated as “broth, chowder”.
Shchi was a favorite dish of the old and the young, the rich and the poor, peasants and nobility. The well-off noble class could afford cooking sorrel soup with a rich meat broth, while the peasants cooked lean, meatless shchi with vegetable broth. The wide variety of folklore sayings and proverbs indicates that the dish became an integral part of Russian culture: “Where there is shchi, there are we”; “Shchi and porridge are our forage”, etc.
No doubt that modern recipe of green sorrel soup differs from the original one, but it makes the soup even more flavorful and versatile in the presentation.