I make this soup at least once each winter. One recipe makes a lot--enough for a couple of meals, and then some leftover to freeze. I know the recipe from my mother, who got it from her mother. It is a traditional eastern European soup; all my grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. Growing up, we would not have put sour cream in this soup, as it would not have been kosher to mix a dairy product with the meat. With or without, the soup is very, very good--my all-time favorite soup.
about 10 generous servings
3 lbs. short ribs of beef (with bone in if available)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 large cans tomatoes: Drain off liquid, saving liquid from one can. Shred tomatoes with fingers.
3 quarts water+juice (juice from 1 can of tomatoes and water to make up the rest)
1 med-large head cabbage
1 lb. canned sauerkraut (14 oz. fine)
3 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (or less)
2 T. flour
2 T. water
sour cream (optional)
Place meat in a deep pot (10 qt. is good size) with garlic, onions, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam off the top. Shred cabbage coarsely, discarding core. Add to soup with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Add lemon juice and sugar. Cook 30 minutes. Mix flour and water to a smooth paste. Thin with a little soup liquid and then and add to the soup pot, stirring constantly. Add sauerkraut and cook until meat is tender. Correct seasoning; you may want to add more salt, lemon, or sugar.
The soup may be served with a spoonful of sour cream. Meat can be left on the bones, or taken off and cut in pieces.
This soup freezes well. If freezing, take meat off bones and cut up.