THE RUSSIAN FOOD NETWORK

                                                                    Project form          

Please fill out the form below, print it, and turn it in, in hard copy, on the due date you selected on the signed up sheet.  The Russian Food Network Event as a follow up to your Russian cooking experience will take place on December 2 during class time, in the Whitman Commons.  Please duplicate your recipe and bring it in for the event.

Recipe:  Kidney Dill Pickle Soup (Rassolnik) 

I veal kidney or 2 lamb kidneys

¼ cup raw pearl barley

Flour

¾ teaspoon salt

I large carrot, scraped

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

I medium leek

2 tablespoons brine from the pickle jar        One medium potato

4 tablespoons butter                                   Sour cream

12 cups beef stock                3 dill pickles, insides scraped out, cut into julienne strips

Remove all membrane from the kidney and soak the kidney in cold water for 30 minutes. Then pat dry and cut into slices. Dredge with flour.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Cut the carrot, leak, and potato into julienne strips. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large stockpot and sauté the vegetables in t fir 10 minutes.

In a small frying pan melt the remaining butter and brown the kidney slices in it over high heat, about 5 minutes.

To the vegetables, add the fried kidney slices and the stock. Then add the pickles, barley, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that rises to the top. When the foam has subsided, cover the pot and simmer the soup for 45 minutes.

Stir in the pickle brine. Test for seasoning. At this point, sour cream may be stirred into the soup before serving, or may be passed at the table and the soup served clear.

Yield: 4-5 servings.

A synopsis of your research on the recipe and the area where the recipe originated:

Kidney Dill Pickle Soup, or Rassolnik, is a national food of Russia, although the precise region where it originated appears to be unknown. The recipe was developed rather late in history, not surfacing until the 19th century. Despite its late appearance on the Russian table, Rassoulnik still plays an important part in Russian cuisine, and is said to have been served by peasants and royalty alike. The use of pickle brine, or rassol keeps the soup fresh and mold free for longer than would be expected.

Your description of the experience of preparing and the tasting the recipe (any ingredients you needed to substitute, any changes you made to the recipe… does it remind you of something you tasted before?  What would you serve to accompany it? Etc. 

I was slightly dubious as I stirred slices of kidney and pickles into the pot, following them with a generous splash of pickle juice. But despite my trepidation, the aroma that filled my nostrils was scrumptious one. My family and I were all surprised to find the pickle flavor although strong, to be quite pleasant, and the kidney unexpectedly mild.

I made very few changes to the recipe, and the outcome was a rich, full, yet mild flavored soup.  The recipe calls for eight cups of water, but I used only six. I also let the soup simmer for longer than the proscribed forty-five minutes. This made the soup somewhat thicker, and the meat more tender. Longer cooking time also enables the barley to puff up nicely, giving a thicker, fuller body to the soup.  I was not expecting to actually enjoy this kidney dill pickle soup, let alone want to make it again some day, yet somehow both is true!

Like a wine recommendation to accompany a dish, make a recommendation of a reading from Russian literature that would accompany the making or the tasting of the dish you prepared.  Perhaps the reading would suit the mood of the dish, its spiciness or its sweetness… perhaps there was a mention of one of the ingredients or the dish itself in the reading… etc.  You may select from the stories read or presented in class, or some other Russian work with which you are familiar.

Suggested reading:

Diary of a Madman, by Nikolai Gogol.

The outcome of this story is unexpected and touching, just as the outcome of the soup is unexpectedly delicious!