Fusion on the Fives: Russia and Nigeria

Nigerian Solyanka:  нигерийский соля́нка (I only used Russian because I think the Cyrillic alphabet looks cool)


Wow.  It has been a while.  But here we are again… Fusion on the Fives!  My (probably unnecessary) random number generator has assigned a fusion of Russian and Nigerian cuisines.  These are countries with pretty different cultures and climates.  So I decided to do a spin on a Russian soup that I considered featuring in the previous Russia post, and integrate some Nigerian flavors.  The result was Nigerian Solyanka… you know… for those cold Nigerian winters.

Solyanka is a spicy and sour soup from Russia, well originally from the Ukraine… but I won’t get into that discussion.  What most attracted me to solyanka is its use of pickles (real pickles – dill pickled cucumbers) and olives.  I am a fan of pickles, and Sous Chef is an even bigger fan of pickles.  Most recipes I found for Solyanka emphasized salami and coldcuts, but emphasized this is a soup to put all of the random meats and produce you have laying around.  I decided to combine a bunch of the recipes I saw around with the Nigerian method of making jallof rice, because why shouldn’t your tomatoes be fried and spicy?



  • 1lb chuck beef (or any stew meat), cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 7 oz. hard salami, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 habanero peppers (or other spicy pepper such as scotch bonnet), chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3 large dill kosher pickles, chopped
  • 5-10 olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • handful of peanut
  • maggi chicken broth cube (or other chicken broth if you hate multiculturalism)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste


Start by gathering your ingredients together (in the most picturesque way possible, of course).



Peel and deseed the tomatoes (no need to  go crazy, just get rid of a few of the seeds preferably).  Core and deseed the peppers.  Throw them all into a food processor and pulse until a smooth liquidy paste forms.



Put the tomato mixture in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and reduce the mixture until it thicker, and a richer red color.  You are just trying to get rid of some of the excess water from the tomatoes.


Then, in a separate saucepan, heat about 1/4 cup oil over medium heat, add the onions, and saute until translucent.



Once translucent, add the tomato mixture to the onions and stir.  Then stir in tomato paste.




Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to separate from the oil and they seem thoroughly fried.


Place the tomato mixture (now called tomato stew) in a fine sieve and allow some of the oil to drain.


In a dutch oven or large sauce pan, because you can never have too many dirty dishes, add 2 tbsp palm oil, and heat over medium-high.  Add the meat cubes and brown.


(Look at the color of that oil.)



Allow the meat to brown more than this:
Solyanka16Then toss in the carrots, cucumbers, thyme, bay leaves, maggi cube, and 6-8 cups of water.







Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to simmer.  While the soup is heating up, chop up and add the pickles and olives.




Allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour or until the beef is tender.


Try to skim off some of the oil from the top of the broth.


The longer you let it go, the more rich the flavor will get.

Serve with chopped peanuts.


The Verdict?  Not my most beautiful dish, but the flavor profile was great.  The olives and pickles added a great briny quality that regular salt wouldn’t achieve.  The tomato stew really gave a depth of tomato flavor totally different from tossing in a can of chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.  Maybe Nigeria and Russia aren’t as far apart as they seem.  (Or maybe they are but both have good food).  Next up:  Back to the Americas with Mexico!  And I swear it won’t take another several months for the next update.





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