written on 08/10/2020
by Heidrun Strobl

Soljanka is an East German soup recipe to use up leftovers in the kitchen.

Getting exotic ingredients was anything but easy in former GDR. But as you might know, necessity is the mother of invention.

Soljanka is a kind of soup, tastes slightly acidic and salty (Sol) and originally comes from Russia. Leftovers from the fridge were thus transformed into a hearty dish.

Russian occupation forces brought this recipe to the GDR. If you are not a fan of meat, try the fish version (based on freshwater fish) or the vegetarian option prepared with champignons, potatoes, carrots and coleslaw.

The one and only Soljanka recipe doesn’t exist, there are umpteen. One of them is as follows:


Ingredients for 4:

  • 200 g meat sausage or leftover roast meat, chopped
  • 200 g Salami, cut in strips
  • 200 g bacon
  • 200 g raw ham, cut in strips
  • 5 gherkins
  • 250 ml of the liquid in which the gherkins are pickled
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • ½ glass of Letscho (mixture of tomatoes, red pepper, sweet paprika powder and some vinegar)
  • 1 -1.5l broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, filleted
  • dill
  • crème fraiche to refine
  • capers (optional)

and as ‘Saettigungsbeilage’ (East German expression for filler) have some bread


1. First fry the bacon until it is crispy. After that add sausage, roast, salami and ham. Frying is very important in order to obtain the typical hearty taste of this dish. Add the onions

2. Mix in the tomato paste which gives the soup its nice reddish colour. Add the broth. Just start with 1 l and pour in more if necessary. Now add the 2 ingredients which give the soup its sour taste: Letscho, Hungarian vegetables, a mixture of red pepper, tomatoes and vinegar, the gherkin or pickles and their liquid. If you do not have Letscho at your disposal, help yourself out and complement the dish with canned tomatoes, 2 chopped red peppers, a teaspoon of sweet paprika powder and some balsamic or white vinegar

3. The soup has to cook now for approximately 30 mins, spice it up with the bay leaves, salt and pepper and dill.

4. When it’s ready to serve, present it with a filleted slice of lemon, crème fraiche to refine and optional capers

By the way, Soljanka tastes best the next day.

Gudn Abbedied!

Photo 3: ©wuestenigel