I couldn’t wait to make this soup. Given to me by a friend (his mum’s recipe), it is apparently a traditional Polish dish. The idea of a warm soup may sound a bit crazy now that summer has (finally) arrived but don’t let that put you off – I’ve heard you can also serve it chilled. I was so excited when I got this as my friends’ mum had been kind enough to specify details such as which brand of preserved cucumbers are the best (Krakus, below) – it is particulars like this which make a recipe work.
One of the most intriguing things about this soup is the method. Vegetables (carrot, parsnip, potato) are simmered in stock and water with a leg of chicken or a fatty cut of beef. At the end of cooking time, the meat is removed and my friend has noted, ‘do with it what you want!’ The cucumbers, which (importantly) are brined and not pickled, are then grated and fried in butter before being added to the pot. Cream, seasoning and dill are then stirred through, together with a little of the cucumber brine if you want a slightly more sour taste. It is this brine that makes the cukes Polish-style. The process of natural fermentation in brine is how they develop their sour taste – no vinegar involved.
As you can see we put the shredded chicken back into the soup afterwards – not part of the original recipe – we are just die-hard carnivores and couldn’t resist it. I also added quite a lot of the brine back to the pot as I really loved the sour taste. The soup was quite unlike any I’ve ever tasted before, a delicious unique flavour and so simple to make. As I understand it, there are many variations, it’s all down to personal taste.
Polish Cucumber Soup
3 pints water (I used 2 pints water + 1 pint of stock instead of the stock cube below. This is purely because I have an irrational fear of stock cubes!)
1 stock cube (if using)
284ml single cream
1 bunch dill
1 parsnip, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 baking potato (I used 2 normal sized potatoes as I didn’t have a baker), diced
1 jar of cucumbers in brine (my friend’s mum recommends Krakus, which is the brand I used but apparently, others will do fine), drained weight 540g.
1 chicken leg (or beef but this needs to be a fatty cut)
2 tablespoons butter
-Add water, stock and chicken (or beef) to pan.
– Add the chopped veggies and simmer until meat and veggies are soft (around 30 minutes). At the end of this time, remove the meat (I shredded it to add back at the end).
– While the soup simmers, grate all the ‘cumbers’ and reserve the brine.
– Fry the cumbers in the butter on a very low heat for around 5 minutes and add to the soup.
– Finally, add single cream, dill, salt and pepper. If you want the soup to be more sour, add some cumber brine. If you want a thinner soup, add a little water. Add the chicken back in if you like.