There are three basic types of solyanka, with the main ingredient being either meat, fish, or mushrooms. All of them contain pickled cucumbers with brine, and often cabbage, salted mushrooms, smetana (sour cream), and dill. The soup is prepared by cooking the cucumbers with brine before adding the other ingredients to the broth.
Fish solyanka is prepared similarly, but soup vegetables are cooked in the broth. The meat is replaced with fish such as sturgeon, salmon, and freshwater crayfish. Finally, some lemon juice is added to the soup.
For mushroom solyanka, cut cabbage is heated in butter together with vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber pickles, and a little brine. Separately, mushrooms and onions are heated, and grated lemon zest is added. Cabbage and mushrooms are added in layers, breadcrumbs and butter are added, and the soup is briefly baked.
Solyanka is also popular in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany), where it is commonly found in restaurants and available in canned form in grocery stores. (The German transliteration is Soljanka.) This practice stems from the era when Soviet troops were stationed in the GDR, and Soljanka was found on the menu at many East German restaurants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was raised in East Germany, is fond of Solyanka.