Pickle Soup (Ogórkowa Zupa)
Sour flavors are common in Polish cooking, as with the subtle tang of white borscht and red borscht and with the vinegary sauerkraut found in dishes like bigos. Ogórkowa zupa fits perfectly into that tradition. There are as many variations as there are Polish cooks, but the key component — sour dill pickles — is always present. Here, the pickles are grated and gently cooked with garlic and bay leaves, then added along with their brine to a hearty blend of root vegetables in broth. In Polish households, soups usually start off most meals; the generous helping of vegetables in this version makes it a full meal. Serve with some good crusty bread, and feel free to add shredded chicken or even kielbasa if you’d like.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 6to 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 3large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1small celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 7sour dill pickles (8 to 9 ounces) with 1 1/2 cups brine from the jar (see Tip)
- 3tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3dried bay leaves
- Salt and black pepper
- ¼cup sour cream, for serving (optional)
- Chopped fresh dill, for serving (optional)
Step 1In a large pot, combine 6 cups stock with the carrots, celery root, parsnip and potatoes. The vegetables should be covered with stock, so add more as needed. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Rapidly simmer until all the vegetables are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Step 2While the vegetables are cooking, coarsely grate the pickles. You should have approximately 1 cup densely packed grated pickles. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Stir in the garlic and bay leaves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the grated pickles and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring once, until the pickles become softer, 8 to 12 minutes.
Step 3Add the pickle mixture to the pot with the vegetables, along with 1 cup of the pickle brine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. The soup should already be salty from the broth, pickles and their brine, so add salt carefully. Add up to 1/2 cup more brine if you want a more sour taste. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Step 4If using sour cream, temper the cream so it doesn’t curdle: In a cup, mix the sour cream with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cold water, stirring well after each addition, then repeat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the soup. Add the tempered cream to the pot. Bring to a simmer and heat through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Step 5To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Top with chopped dill and black pepper.