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Solyanka is a rich and hearty soup that is popular in Russia and Eastern Europe. It's made with cured meats, green Gordal olives, pickles, veggies, and a flavorful beef broth. The unusual ingredients blend together perfectly to create a soup that is irresistible.
This post is sponsored by European Olives.
What is solyanka?
Solyanka (which is also spelled soljanka) is a hearty soup with salty/sour flavors. While some of the ingredients might seem a little strange to see in a soup recipe, the flavor is incredible.
This recipe is a meat solyanka and is made with three (yes, three!) different types of cured meats.
What type of olives are best in solyanka?
When making solyanka, we love using Gordal olives. They are big and juicy and their gentle flavor does not overpower the soup.
We always have some on hand as they're versatile and are as good to snack on as they are to cook with. They add an amazing flavor (and are so healthy!) that we add them to a lot of recipes we make.
- Cod with Tomatoes and Gordal Olives
- Spanish Breakfast Potatoes with Gordal Olives
- Stuffed Spanish Pork Chops with Gordal Olives
Did you know that in Canada, one out of every two olives eaten comes from Spain, including these Gordal olives used in this solyanka soup recipe?
What type of meat to use in solyanka?
The meat used to make solyanka varies widely. In fact, there are likely as many variations as there are people who make solyanka soup.
Most recipes will call for three different types of meat. Here are a few options if you want to experiment:
- Beef – you can use a bone-in braising cut of meat and simmer it in water to make a beef broth. Then cut up the meat and add it back into your soup.
- Chicken – leftover cooked chicken or store-bought smoked chicken both work.
- Deli meats – ask the person behind the counter to cut you a 3-inch piece, rather than thinly slicing it like they normally do.
- Sausages – use your favorite type!
- Pork – we use bacon, but smoked pork belly is even better. Ham is good, too!
How to make solyanka
Most solyanka soup recipes start with making a bone broth then sautéing ingredients and adding them to the broth a few things at a time.
But we like to make your life easier, and less messy. So we've figured out how to make solyanka soup in one pot (yay for fewer dishes) and in less time. Don't worry, it's every bit as delicious as what you're served in a Russian restaurant.
- Start by cooking the bacon and browning the meat. Remove the meat from the pan, making sure to leave some of the tasty oil.
- Now sauté the veggies. Easy!
- Add a little tomato paste and let it caramelize (flavor!) before adding the spices (more flavor!)
- Now add the meat back into the pot, pour in the bone broth and the other ingredients, and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
That's it! You just made solyanka!
Tips for making the best solyanka
Make sure to use bone broth. You can make it yourself using our easy beef bone broth recipe, or you can find it in the freezer section of your local grocery store.
Avoid overcooking the soup. Let the soup simmer just long enough to bring the flavors together.
Don't skip the toppings. The lemon is essential and both the sour cream and dill add so much to the soup.
- 7 ounces bacon (chopped)
- 7 ounces kielbasa sausage (diced)
- 7 ounces salami (diced (see notes about meat))
- 1 medium onion (minced)
- 1 stalk celery (diced)
- 1 large carrot (grated)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup Gordal olives (chopped)
- 3 pickles (chopped)
- 6 cups beef bone broth
- ¼ cup pickle juice (from the pickle jar)
- To serve: lemon slices, fresh dill, sour cream, extra Gordal or Manzanilla olives
- Add the bacon to a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook until the bacon has started to crisp and much of the fat is released. Add the kielbasa and salami and continue to cook until the bacon is crispy and the meat has browned. Remove the meat from the pot using a slotted spoon then drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the pot.7 ounces bacon, 7 ounces kielbasa sausage, 7 ounces salami
- Add the onion to the pot and cook until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook until both begin to soften, about 3 minutes.1 medium onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 large carrot
- Push the veggies to the side of the pot then add the tomato paste. Spread it out a little then let it caramelize for 3 minutes. Add the paprika and allspice and mix everything together.3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- Add the bay leaves, Gordal olives, pickles, beef bone broth, pickle juice, and the cooked meat to the pot and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt if needed – there are a lot of salty flavors in this so you probably won't add extra salt. Remove the bay leaves.2 bay leaves, 1 cup Gordal olives, 3 pickles, 6 cups beef bone broth, ¼ cup pickle juice
- Serve the soup topped with a slice of lemon, some fresh dill, a spoonful of sour cream, and a few extra Gordal olives.To serve: lemon slices, fresh dill, sour cream, extra Gordal or Manzanilla olives
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.