I first discovered this meaty spicy and sour soup in Berlin when I lived there in 1996. Although it originates in Russian and Ukrainian cuisine, it became popular in the former East Germany when Soviet troops were stationed there. It I saw a can of it in a supermarket and, having never heard of it before, decided to give it a try. It was delicious, and just the thing for a cold Berlin evening.

It’s January now, and the nights are drawing in. I’m also looking to stock up the freezer with lots of pre-made meals, and so I decided to try to recreate the soup at home. The job was a little harder than it might have been as some of the recipes I looked into needed several different types of German sausages, so I had to improvise with what I could find in the supermarket.

I’m pleased to report that it worked out beautifully, and Rebecca and I feasted on some delicious Soljanka over the weekend, topped with sour cream and dill.


Soljanka – the stovetop espresso maker betrays our caffeine addiction



  • 500g pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 400g salami slices, cut into strips
  • 400g chicken sausage (something like this), chopped
  • 1 medium sized jar dill pickled gherkins (something like this)
  • 1/2 medium sized jar pickled peppers (something like this)
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 large red peppers, cubed.
  • 2 large green peppers, cubed.
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped.
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tube of tomato puree
  • half a bulb of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 3 bay leaves
  • dash of worcester sauce
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh dill



  1. In a large pot, fry the onions, garlic and chilli until softened.
  2. Add the pork, salami and chicken sausage and fry until browned
  3. Chop the gherkins finely and add them into the pot. Retain the gherkin juice in the jar for later
  4. Chop the peppers finely and add them to the pot. Fry the lot together for a bit
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir
  6. Add the pickle juice from the gherkin jar, along with the bay leaves, and simmer for a little while
  7. Add the stock cubes and up to a pint of boiling water until you have a chunky soup consistency
  8. Add the tomato paste and stir well
  9. Cover and simmer on a low heat for about 30 mins
  10. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream and chopped dill to garnish
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