Saturday, October 01, 2005


I'm Sorry, Did You Say Pickle Soup???

It's a well-known fact Angelenos don't socialize with their next door brethren (think about how after a crime the only thing reporters around here can get is the tired old sound bite "He was always quiet and kept to himself") something to which I normally ascribe. It was the inviting smell of soup that changed that for me. After months of catching a scent on the breeze, I finally broke down, knocked on my neighbors door and made friends, in hopes I would someday be invited in for dinner. I had no idea that I would end up not only liking my neighbor quite a bit, but would be lucky enough to have her teach me to make the soup who's aroma had haunted me for so long.

It's a (fantastic) old world Polish classic, that has changed my life. (A little bit anyway) It was hilarious to me that as we were cooking Renata continually exclaimed "I cannot believe you like this!" (I think because her overly-assimilated children cannot stand it, she assumes it is not something North Americans would like. I understand her kids reaction, but it also makes me a little sad to see, live and in person, how heritage recipes fall out of favor) To which I just shook my head. It's pickles isn't it? What's not to like? So if you like salt (and baby, this is salty) and are adventurous, try it out. I was so taken, I ate about a gallon right from the pot.

Odd (to Westerners) as it may sound, I tell ya, these Polish people are on to something...something GOOD. It's basically a vegetable soup with a beef bone stock, and a healthy dose of sauteed pickles that are thrown in at the last moment. It also included parsley root, which is a fresh a vibrant veg that I just adore. Renata could not empasize enough that you can only use brine cured pickles, (a la Bubbies brand) if you try this with vinegar cured it just won't work. Try it, and enjoy.

4 beef short ribs
5 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1 leek, white part only
2 stalks celery, large dice
2 peeled carrots, large dice
2 peeled parsley roots, large dice
4 red potatoes, large dice
6 large pickles, grate and squeeze to remove excess liquid

In a four quart pot, cover the bones with cold water, add the allspice, bay leaves and leek and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 2-3 hours.

Remove the beef bones and discard. Add the remaining vegetables and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until just cooked.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and add the shredded pickles. Let saute for about three minutes (until they are a little bit dry) then add to the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings. It should really taste like pickles. If it doesnt, add 1/4 cup of pickle juice , remove the allspice and bay leaves, stir and serve warm.

Makes eight large servings


The 53rd Ohio Swiss Festival officially begins today in Sugarcreek with continuous entertainment, dancing, Swiss cheese and Trail bologna, a variety of amusement rides, a craft tents, souvenirs and food booths provided by local organizations and vendors scattered through out the village.

Parsley roots are typically sold with their feathery greens whereas parsnips are sold by the root.

Today is world vegetarian day!

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Hi Rachael,

My Lithuanian friend (Lithuania is right next door to Poland and was apparently part of Poland at various times in history) said his grandma used to make pickle soup. The unfortunate part of her recipe was that she made it with kidneys instead of short it a rather icky smell that traumatized him in his childhood.

Thanks for posting about the tofu festival. I am wearing my Tofuzilla shirt right now! The event is pretty small and none of the food knocked me out, but it was a novelty and I had a great time.

You are sooo right about neighbors in So Cal. I lived here 4 years and met 2 neighbors just a couple times. We finally had a block party in August and all met each other. It was great. Highly recommended.
I can see how kidney soup might not be a child's idea of tasty...LOL
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