This is a typical polish winter soup and is very simple to make.
You will notice that sauerkraut is a common ingredient in the Polish kitchen.

25g butter
1 bay leaf
4 spare ribs
200g sauerkraut
2 dried mushrooms (soaked overnight)
1 onion (sliced)
1.25 litres water

Heat butter in a small frying pan and fry the spare ribs briskly to seal in their juices. Gently boil the ribs and all the other ingredients in the water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauerkraut softens. Remove the spare ribs and bay leaf, season to taste and serve. Serves 4.

Another sour flavoured soup

1 litre chicken stock
2 med sized potatoes
2 med sized cucumbers, pickled in brine
25g butter
150 ml sour cream
1 tsp plain flour
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock. Peel and dice potatoes and boil them in the stock until soft. Peel the cucumbers and grate them coarsely. Melt the butter and soften the grated cucumber. Add to the stock and potatoes. Taste and add a little brine if necessary - the soup should have a pleasantly sour taste. Mix the sour cream with the flour and stir into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately without bringing back to the boil. Serves 4.

My favorite!! It is basically a vegetable soup flavoured with kwas (a fermented juice which is used to give it a sour flavour). You can either buy the kwas from the delicatessen or follow the recipe below. My husband sometimes improvises the dish and adds shredded chicken.

For the kwas:
75g wholemeal rye flour
600 ml boiled, cooled water
1/4 clove garlic

Rinse out an earthenware jar or any non-alluminium container with boiling water. (Note: the alluminium would react with the acidity of the kwas). Put the flour in the jar and mix to a liquid paste with a little of water. Leave the mixture to settle for a few minutes, and then pour on the remaining boiled water. Chop the garlic and add. Cover the top of the jar with muslin or pierced cling film and leave in a warm place for 4 to 5 days to ferment. Strain and use as required. If stored in an airtight container, it will keep for a few weeks.

For the soup:
1.25 litres stock from vegetables or beef/chicken bones
100g bacon
100g onion
1 can of mushrooms
400ml kwas
300ml sour cream
5 medium potatoes, cooked and diced
100g smoked sausage, diced

Heat the stock. Chop bacon and onion and add to stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mushrooms, kwas, cream and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes and then add potatoes and sausage. Bring to boil. Serves 6.

DILL SOUP (Zupa Koperkowa)
Besides sauerkraut and sour cream being the common ingredient in Polish recipes, dill also plays an important part in flavouring salad dressings, boiled potatoes, sauces and soups.

15g unsalted butter
1 tbs fresh dill, chopped
500ml beef stock
1/2 tsp lemon juice
150ml sour cream
salt and pepper

Melt butter in pan, add dill and stir gently over low heat for a few minutes. Heat stock and add the dill to it. Mix in the lemon juice and cream. Season and serve. Serves 2.

This is a classic beetroot soup.

2 litres beef stock or vegetable stock
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 bouquet garni
1 can mushrooms (or fresh)
3 uncooked medium-sized beetroot, peeled and sliced thickly
300 ml kwas
1 tsp sugar

Heat beef stock in a large pan. Add the onion, bouquet garni, mushrooms and beetroot. Boil for an hour. Strain the soup and stir in the kwas into the clear soup. Add sugar to taste and reheat, if necessary without boiling. Serves 8.

You can add vegetables to the soup which is normally served during the Christmas Eve meatless dinner. Vegetables used are celery, carrot and parsnip which is roughly chopped.

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