Dean and I spent a few months in LA in 1984 while he did an internship at RAND. One memorable evening was spent with a co-worker whose wife was from Poland. For dinner, one of the courses was an unusual (to us) and very delicious soup: dill pickle soup.
Dean’s office holds holiday parties every December and part of that holiday party is that gift exchange where you are allowed to take gifts from each other. Very often that gift is then found under the Christmas tree with my name on it. A few years ago this was the case with a Polish cookbook. We laughed, I put it away and never opened it.
Dean needed fresh dill for the salmon he made for Thanksgiving. He bought a lot of dill. On Thursday I cleaned out the vegetable drawer and was determined to find a use for the leftover and beginning-to look-sad dill. I first thought I’d make quick dill pickles then remembered we had an abundance of dill pickles and only one sad looking cucumber. Then I thought about that dill pickle soup that we had in 1984 and also about that Polish cookbook. I checked the cookbook and found a recipe for dill pickle soup.
Of course I also needed a bread to go with it and had just gotten some rye flour from King Arthur Baking Company. I spent a few days looking for recipes for a Polish rye, but it all called for multiple days of prep work. I ended up settling on this hearth rye recipe but was not feeling up to baking bread on Sunday.
Today I felt better and baked the rye (I added a bit of sourdough starter to the bread dough to try to get a sourdough taste) and made the soup. The rye was too light for my taste — I wanted something more dense, but the soup was delightful. (note that the rye looked delightful and Dean was delighted with it).
Here’s the soup recipe if you are interested:
Dill Pickle Soup (Zupa Ogorkówa)
from Polish Classic Recipes by Laura & Peter Zeranski
Serves 6 – 8 (I halved it – and used a small egg for the egg yolk)
- 6 cups beef broth (I used “Better than Bouillon” beef broth base + water but any broth would probably work including vegetable)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 4 large dill pickles, shredded (the recipe introduction suggests an imported Polish variety but I used kosher dills)
- 2/3 cup dill pickle liquid
- 2 ½ cups boiled, cubed potatoes
- 2 carrots, sliced
- ½ teaspoon, parsley chopped (I didn’t have any fresh, so omitted this)
- ½ teaspoon dill, chopped (I used much more)
- 3 Tablespoons sour cream (optional)
- Bring the broth to a boil.
- In another pan, add the cubed potatoes and bring to a boil. Add the sliced carrots and cook until fork-tender. Drain and set aside. (this was not in the original recipe – which didn’t call for cooking the carrots – but I didn’t want my carrots crunchy).
- Mix the flour with the milk and add to the broth (this went against all my knowledge of adding flour to a liquid – normally I’d make a roux first – but I followed the directions and it worked out fine – no flour taste in the soup). Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Mix the egg yolk with the butter (my butter was melted, but not hot) and add to the broth mixture. Add the pickles, pickle liquid, potatoes, and carrots. Heat but do not boil. Add the sour cream, if desired (I added it). Garnish with parsley and dill.