Rassolnik – Russian Soup With Pickles and Barley – Суп “Рассольник”

A pickle soup?! Yep. This recipe is for Slavic folks or pregnant ladies:) However, if you’ve never heard of such a bizarre concept as a pickle soup, I would encourage you to give this a try. If you’re Russian, you probably grew up eating this soup, and don’t see anything unusual about it. Rassolnik brings back warm, nostalgic memories for me, and since I like my pickles, it’s one of my favorites.

Rassolnik is very comforting, since it has potatoes and creamy barley in it, but it also doesn’t taste heavy at all. I feel light and happy after I eat a bowl (or two), which is awesome.

When we still lived in Belarus, my Mom was pregnant and had an extreme craving for Rassolnik. There was one problem though. Cooking and all the different smells in the kitchen made her really nauseous. My Dad doesn’t know anything about cooking. He grew up with his Mom bringing the food to the table and then got married and had my Mom waiting on him hand and foot. Even though he had no idea what he was doing, my Dad decided to make the soup for Mom –  he’s such a sweet guy!

He had to go into her room for every. single. step. And half step of the process. Mom thought it was really funny, because he really had no clue what he was doing. However, he had plenty of determination and lots of love in him. He finished the soup, served it to my Mom and she absolutely loved it. I’m sure part of it was due to the fact of how touched she was by his hard work but it tasted great too. 

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. (You can start this soup by cooking a quick chicken broth using chicken wings, a quartered onion, some garlic cloves, a bay leaf, peppercorns and some salt. Cook until the chicken is cooked and the broth is very flavorful. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve lined with a cheesecloth or a paper towel.)You can also use beef broth or pork. Use whichever meat you like for the broth. Or make this soup as a vegetarian option. Omit the meat and use vegetable broth.

Add the potatoes and barley to the soup.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep the soup covered as it cooks. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 Tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Add to the soup. Shred the pickles on a box grater and add to the soup. You can also add a bit of the pickling brine to the soup. It gives the soup a nice zip. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes and barley are cooked through. Garnish the soup with some finely minced herbs, parsley, dill, scallions, etc. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soups
Cuisine: Russian
Serves: 6-8
  • 8-10 cups chicken broth (you can also use beef, pork or vegetable broth)
  • ½ cup cooked meat, chicken, beef, pork (optional, save from making broth or cook in the broth)
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup pearled barley
  • ½ Tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded pickles,
  • salt, pepper
  • serves 6-8
  1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil.
  2. Add the potatoes and barley to the soup. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep the soup covered as it cooks.
  3. Meanwhile, heat ½ Tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Add to the soup.
  4. Shred the pickles on a box grater and add to the soup. You can also add a bit of the pickling brine to the soup. It gives the soup a nice zip.
  5. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes and barley are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  6. Garnish the soup with some finely minced herbs, parsley, dill, scallions, etc. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.


  • Ale

    Vkusnyatina! obojzaiu!
    Something my mom and grandma used to make. I always stick to mediterranean cooking, but your recipes are inspiring me to reconnect to the roots :).

  • Natalya Wilson

    Olga, made this soup for my family… yummmm! Mike loved it so did Savannah!!!!!! Even Dakota did, and he is not really “into this staff”. Very yummy and delishioso! Thank you very much for the recepie!!!

  • Jessen

    Hey Olga! I’m a new reader of yours! I ran into your site looking for a russian potato salad. I dated a Russian from Ukraine many years ago, and haven’t gotten that potato salad out of my head! hehe, it’s goooodd! (I don’t remember there being meat or pea’s in it though?) This here Pickle soup has been on my list of things to make since I heard about it a couple months ago. I will be honest and say I haven’t made it, because I thought my family wouldn’t like it, But. . . Since they love pickles and you posted it, I am definitely going to make it this week. Thank you for bringing these recipes back into my life! One Question: I remember being introduced to Russian Hamburgers back in the day – Do you have a recipe for them?

    • olgak7

      Hi Jessen,
      Welcome! So glad you stopped by. Let me know what you think of the Rassolnik:). It really does sound a little weird, but most people surprisingly end up liking it.
      The only thing I could think of for Russian hamburgers would be kotleti. Try this version, Chicken Kotleti; you can use beef, pork or turkey instead of chicken if you want.

      • Doug

        I’ll have to try your recipe out. I’ve actually eaten this soup many times as well as borscht. A good Russian friend of mine used to make this from time to time. I haven’t eaten it in years but it’s my favorite soup. Anyone here thinking about making this soup should, it’s awesome! She used to make her own broth. After she would boil the chicken, she would debone it. The meat would go off to the side while she added the bones back to the broth where she would then boil the bones for a while longer- remove the bones and continue to make the soup, it was a nice added touch. I never watched her from start to finish but saw her doing this one time. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

    • Alla

      THe potato salad you are talking about is probably Olivie. The one you tried was probably without the peas, some people like it with peas.

  • Alla

    Made this soup this past week and absolutely loved everything about it… The simplicity, lightness, the healthy barley, pickle crunchiness 😉 Thanx for another great post

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad you liked it, Alla. Whenever I make this soup, I can’t stop with just one bowl. I confess to eating at least 3 in one sitting. I love the combination of pickles and barley, and the best part is how light it tastes.

  • Olga

    Hi Olya. Thanks for all the wonderful recepes you’ve posted. I have Rossilnil on my menu for tonight. Would like to know what kind of pickles you use for this soup? Brand name? Because there are so much variety.. Sweet, crunchy, Kosher…. I just need to pick the right one so the taste is right. Thank you in advance.

  • Sarah

    Great recipe…I tried it tonight and it was really good. Thanks.
    I need to start making home made chicken broth and I’m sure my soups will taste a 100 % better. For now, I used the chicken bouillon cubes.

  • Oksana Babich

    Olya! I made this soup yesterday for the first time! See, I have been married for 3 years and have never made it because my husband told me he didn’t like it. Well, I really was craving some yesterday so I went ahead and made it. When my husband came home and I asked him if he wanted to try some Rassolnik – he gave in and tried it! To my surprise he ate the entire bowl!! He said he liked it really much! Yay!! I was so excited! LOVE YOUR RECIPES 🙂

    • olgak7

      Oksana, That is SO funny! When I first got married, my husband told me that he didn’t like Rassolnik either, but when I made it (I couln’t help myself – it’s one of my favorite soups), he loved it and I make it often now. I’m so glad your family enjoyed it too.

  • Tatyana C.

    Hi Olga! This is the very first recipe I tried from your blog! The soup is delicious. Thank you so much for sharing it. I used a little more barley (about 1/2 cup) & a little less potatos. Also I used the ham instead of chicken to expedite the cooking process! Needless to say, my husband, who is not Russian, ate two bowls of it right away! I will be visiting your blog more often now.

    Oh, also, I never thought of shredding the pickles. My mom always cut them into small cutes, so I did the same. When I made Rassolnik your way, I told my mom about shredding pickles and she was like, “That’s a great idea! Why I never thought of it?”

  • demelzabunny

    Thanks so much for this recipe, Olya! I was craving this soup since I first had it at my husband’s parents’ house. His babushka made it for us long ago when we were first married, but I couldn’t find her recipe; this seems to be it. It’s bubbling on the stove as we speak. I’m sure it’ll be очень вкусный!

    With regard to the request for the potato salad: I’m sure she’s speaking about salad olivye. It can be made with or w/out meat of some kind, but must have canned peas (for that Soviet touch) and dill pickles, of course. If meat is added, it is usually chicken. I have a good recipe if anybody wants….

    • demelzabunny

      Your wish is my command, Veronika:

      Salat Olivye*

      – 2 cups diced boiled potatoes
      – 1 cup diced boiled carrots
      – 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
      – 2-3 thinly sliced scallions
      – 3-4 diced dill pickles
      – 1/2 can of peas, drained
      – 1/2 cup diced chicken or ham (optional)
      – 1/2 cup mayonnaise
      – 1-2 Tbsp. canola or safflower oil
      – 1 sprig fresh dill chopped, or 1 tsp. dried dill
      – 1 Tbsp. sugar
      – 1 tsp. salt

      Add first 6 (or 7 if including meat) ingredients to bowl and mix well by folding, being careful not to mush up any of the vegetables. Sprinkle salt, sugar and dill on top of mixture; then pour oil over and mix. Oil should enable ingredients to fall separately from each other. Then add mayonnaise and fold in, again trying not to mush up any of the vegetables. Chill and serve cold or cool.

      *Amounts given are approximate. When I make this, I just eyeball the ingredients to make a good mix; you’ll be able to do that after having prepared it a few times. And feel free to increase the yield. This salad keeps well up to a week in the fridge, and the flavors meld well after having been in the fridge overnight.

      == Some people feel carrots are not an “original” ingredient of this salad, and many do not include it. It’s up to you, but we do like the carrots. I have even seen recipes that include chopped apples, which is good, too.


  • veronika

    I love barely, we used to eat plain, when I saw your recipe, I couldn’t believe it, I am just like you, can’t stop at 1 bowl of soup, I eat soups a lot. your blog is the perfect site for soups, thank you for your hard work! God bless you!

    • olgak7

      I just made this soup last week:).
      I really, really like soups of all kinds. I have to make one at least once a week. I’m so glad to hear that you like them too. We must be “kindred spirits”.

  • blueberry

    hi Olga!
    i LOVE your site!!!! I just made Rassolnik and guess what??? My husband and I finished it all at once!!! 🙂 It was sooo delicious! thanks for sharing this recipe!!!

  • Lana

    I never liked rassolnik, but this recipe was delicious! You have officially converted me. I was looking for a simple yet tasty soup to make, and this totally hit the spot! I was getting tired of borsch and various other chicken noodle/rice/barley soups and this refreshing soup was great. Even hubby liked it, even though at first he gave me that “soup with pickles?!?” look. Haha. — I will definitely make this many times again. Thanks for the recipe and keep up the great work that you do!

    • olgak7

      That’s the highest praise I could get! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite soups, and my husband doesn’t like it! But, when he tried this version, he loved it too. Not as much as I do, but I was so excited that now I can prepare it for both of us.

  • demelzabunny

    It’s so funny that you say that, Lana, about your husband. That has happened to me a number of times. My husband insisted he didn’t like borshch, shchi, or stewed eggplant/vegetable salad, but he likes mine and always eats them when I make them. Go figure.

  • Aaron M.

    I had never even heard of rassolnik until I read about it in a pair of novels (bit.ly/1k4mB7w & http://bit.ly/Md59Sv), strangely enough. Ultimately, I decided to try my hand at making it. Thanks to Google, I found your recipe first and finally got around to making it this evening for my family. While both my parents were initially unsure of “pickle soup,” the taste won them over. Allow me to convey all of our thanks for this delicious recipe.

  • Gintare

    Hi Olga!
    I’m home by myself tonight and I just made this for dinner, and I have to tell you, it is fantastic!
    Never had rassolnik before, but saw it had pickles as a main ingredient (BIG Lithuanian staple!) and I decided to give it a go.
    My verdict: Healthy and filling! I made it with homemade chicken and pork broth and added chopped kielbasa as the 1/2 cup of meat.
    I had my bowl with a slice of black rye bread…YUM!
    Thank you for another great recipe 🙂 hopefully my dear husband (Italian/Irish) will enjoy it as much as I do.

    Spaciba and aciu!

    • olgak7

      Hi Gintare,
      I really enjoyed reading your comment:).
      Your variation sounds delicious. I actually made this soup this week and it was great. I love taking it with me to work.
      Black rye bread is awesome! It goes perfectly with any European soups.

  • Anna

    I don’t like barley, so I use rice instead. This recipe is exactly how my grandma used to make it. Brings back childhood memories 🙂

    • olgak7

      I love barley, but I know many people don’t like it. Rice is the perfect substitute.
      This soup brings back a lot of childhood memories for me too. I love that:).

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