In Poland, when they talk about cucumber soup, they don't mean the pallid white stuff. Ogorkowa (o-goor-KOV-ah) is made with sour cucumbers, otherwise known as dill pickles.
This works better if you use homemade sour pickles, but good sour dill pickles -- not the sweet kind -- from a jar are a fine substitute. They don't have to be kosher dills, but those are often high quality.
This recipe comes from Wlodek Szemberg, a Polish friend of co-author Danielle Crittenden, who first introduced her to the exotic possibilities of Polish cuisine by serving her this soup at a dinner party more than two decades ago; the memory of its surprise and deliciousness remained strong. The result is hearty and deeply fragrant of dill.
Served with dark bread and butter, it makes a complete meal.
Make Ahead: The soup (minus the dill) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Servings: 6 - 12
Yield: Makes about 12 cups
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, white and light-green parts, rinsed well, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium carrot, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled, or 2 celery stalks, trimmed; chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- 3 large (about 1 1/2 pounds total) baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 32 ounces homemade or store-bought sour dill pickles in brine
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Generous 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the leek and stir to coat; cook for about 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in the carrot, parsnip and celery root, then add the broth. Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Place the potatoes in a separate pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for 7 or 8 minutes or until they are cooked through yet still slightly firm. Drain.
Meanwhile, strain the pickles, reserving their brine. Use a cheese grater or grater attachment in a food processor to coarsely grate the pickles. Add to the cooked vegetables in the pot, along with the pickle brine and the cooked potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook (over medium-low heat) for 5 minutes.
Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the soup so its texture is not ultra-smooth; you want the end result to still be a little chunky. Mix in the heavy cream.
Add the chopped dill just before serving.
Adapted from "From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food," by Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden (Chronicle, 2012).
Tested by Zofia Smardz.
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