Polish Cucumber Soup

6

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. 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 – couldn’t resist it. I also added quite a lot of the brine back to the pot as I really loved the sour 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.

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29 thoughts on “Polish Cucumber Soup

  1. I’m gonna try this too. However, what drew me here was the use of cucumbers in soup……but I was looking for ways to use up my aging fresh cucumbers as I hate wasting food and in the midst of winter, a cold salad is so unappealing….please sir, can I have some more recipes?

  2. My husband’s family emigrated from Eastern Europe 3 generations ago, and he keeps telling me about a sour and salty potato soup his great-grandmother would make. This might be it, but I don’t know if we can find brined cucumbers. Thanks for the great recipe — now we’ll be on the look out for the cukes!

  3. Nicisme – Thank you! I’m always on the lookout for ingredients I haven’t cooked with before.
    Spaghetti – The weather is wonderful at last!
    Wendy – It was new to me too and delicious.
    Fearless Kitchen – I couldn’t resist putting that meat back in, too much of a carnivore.
    Vanilla – That’s a great idea. Stir fried Lebanese cucumbers sound fantastic, I’ll look into that.
    Cookinpanda – What a nice friend you have, get those cukes cooking!
    Neil – Thanks, but the credit must go to my friends mum for the recipe.
    Trig – It can get a bit like that sometimes can’t it? We want everyone to be seasonal and then we are all cooking with the same things.
    Cynthia – I actually didn’t use all of the cream in the end, so it kept a bit of lightness too.
    Farida – I’ve never heard of solyanka – thanks for the tip off though. I love pickled cucumbers too so I’ll check it out.

  4. What an interesting recipe! It reminds me a bit of a dish called solyanka, a Russian dish, where pickled cucumber is added to the meat and simmered together. but then again, it is not a soup and the cucumbers are pickled, not brined:) I’ll save your recipe to try whenever I get a chance and brined cucumbers! Cheers:)

  5. Helen, this is so exciting! A friend of mine lives in a predominantly polish neighborhood and we’ve dined at a few local restaurants that are fabulous, but I have little to no experience with polish food. This friend recently brought me a few jars of preserved things like cucumbers (!) and beets. I had no idea what to do with them, but this looks like a great starting point.

  6. For me, the best part of pickled cucumbers is the brine- I just LOVE it and your soup sounds soo de-lish! I have used the brine in salad dressings and stir fried Lebanese cucumbers. I can’t wait to give a try to your recipe!!!

  7. You always have such interesting dishes here Helen. I love coming to see what new-to-me foods you have, and today it’s the cucumbers! Thanks for sharing this lovely soup.

  8. Coffee and Vanilla – It’s a pleasure!
    Scott – I hope you try the soup, let me know what you think if you do.
    Peter G – It’s a please Peter, sorry I caught you out with the speech, I’ll warn you next time ;-) Those cucumbers are really delicious, especially after being fried in butter!
    Evil Chef Mom – Again, it’s a pleasure! You can use any cucumbers but you need to make sure they are preserved in brine and not in vinegar. This is the Polish way you see. Happy souping!

  9. Thank You Helen, this is…well, I feel honored, is all I can say.

    I can’t wait to make this. I have never heard of cucumber soup, so I have to have it. I have never seen the Krakus brand around here. Do you have a alternative I can use.

  10. Thanks Helen…I appreciate the award. Even though I have no speech planned…Seriously, I’m really liking this soup. Its very different to anything else I’ve seen. I love cucumbers (brined or pickled) and the whole frying them and adding them back t the soup has me intrigued. A future “must try”. Cheers.

  11. Nina – It was new to me too, you should give it a try and let me know what you think, I really enjoyed it.
    Kalyn – Thanks for introducing me to Neil’s blog, I haven’t come across it before. He’s not the source I was referring to though! I’ve just checked out the blog and it’s great – good to see a different version too, I’m going to experiment further with the recipe.

  12. This sounds very similar to a soup recipe just posted by Neil of At My Table (he’s not your friend is he?) His wife is Polish. I was intrigued by it then, and I’m still quite intrigued.

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