Smoked Fish Solyanka, a much loved Russian Smoked Fish Soup, is a semi hearty soup, with a full on sour, smoky and a touch hot, flavour.
This is a reader requested recipe and one that I’ve been making from memory for about 20 years now. The recipe was learnt at the hands of Lidiya, a friend’s mum, sometime in the mid 90s. She is also the one who taught me to make Salmon Coulibiac, that glorious Russian Fish Pie of salmon, rice and boiled eggs, encased in puff pastry.
Solyanka or Soljanka refers to soups that are made with salted cucumbers, that, along with the capers, give these soups their characteristic sour flavour. The heat comes from the peppercorns that we drop into the soup. As you are eating it, every so often you’ll bite into one for a wonderful burst of peppery, fruity hit.
Solyanka comes in different forms; besides today’s Smoked Fish Solyanka, there is Meat Solyanka and Vegetable Solyanka, which is mushroom based. The word solyanka means “salty” in Russian, from the word salt (соль).
And no, I didn’t just copy that, I do also speak a little Russian, just enough to make sure I don’t ever get lost when in Russia and can find the loo! It’s one of those languages that I’d always wanted to learn, ever since I read War and Peace in my late teens. So one day, I got myself the Michel Thomas Russian language app, and was amazed at how, contrary to popular belief, the spoken language isn’t at all difficult to learn. It was purely coincidental that I ended up with a few Russian friends when I was living in London in the 90s. Sadly though, these days, it’s only my beauty therapist that I get to practise the language with!
But back to the recipe! I make this soup pretty much the way I learnt it. The only thing I have done is to increase the sour factor by adding some white wine vinegar right at the end, along with the lemon juice.
This is a pretty healthy soup too, with not much added fat, especially if you don’t have it with any additional smetana/crème frâiche. And you know all that fish and those vegetables are good for you!
For many years in my 30s, after a weekend of indulgence, this is one of those recipes that I would cook for dinner on Mondays, after a whole day of fruiting. I have just the soup on its own, with no added starch, sometimes with added spinach to increase the veg content. It’s fantastic, it fills you up perfectly, ticks all the boxes with its sour and spicy notes, while still allowing your body to shed all that unwanted calories and fat you may have accumulated over the weekend!
Once the cold weather comes around, it features quite frequently on our dinner table, despite the fact that my oldest hates fish (he gets a piece of grilled chicken!) It’s a straightforward soup, and made in just about 30 minutes, even more reason to make it frequently. Any leftover is kept in the fridge, and heated up gently for lunch the next day.
Fish Solyanka Ingredients
Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients in our Russian Smoked Fish Soup.
Some people make this with just regular fish, some add a little smoked fish to the soup. I love using a variety of fish: salmon, some white fish and a little smoked fish for a hint of smokiness.
Salted cucumbers are a very common ingredient and snack item in Central and Eastern Europe. They are not the same as pickled, as they are only preserved in salt water, not vinegar. You should be able to find these easily if you live in, or are near to, a big town. Supermarkets ought to stack them. As always, Amazon is bound to stock them too.
Failing that, you can use gherkins or cornichons as substitutes. Of course, if you are up to it, you can always make your own. We always have some homemade in autumn and early winter from our mini cucumber harvest. Sorry, but it’s one of those tutorials, that despite its simplicity, I’ve not got around to posting! Soon, soon!
This is just soured cream that is widely used in Central and Eastern Europe. So you can just use crème frâiche or even soured cream, if you like, although the latter is just a little stronger than real smetana.
Well that’s it, let’s take a look at some pre photos before we get cooking!
And if you love your soups, check out the Soups and Stews page for recipes like:
Have a superb weekend everyone, are you a fan of Russian food?
Smoked Fish Solyanka is a much loved Russian Smoked Fish Soup, with bold, sour flavours guaranteed to warm and fill you up! The serving size indicates 4 as a main course, or 8 if you are serving it as a starter.
Smoked Fish Solyanka – Russian Smoked Fish Soup
Smoked Fish Solyanka is a much loved Russian Smoked Fish Soup, with bold, sour flavours guaranteed to warm and fill you up!
The serving size indicates 4 as a main course, or 8 if you are serving it as a starter.