Pickle Soup

I like dill pickles so much that each year as a child I would find a jar of Polskie Ogorkie weighing down the toe of my Christmas stocking.

Now I make litres and litres of lactofermented dill pickles every summer, picking the cukes while they are small and submerging them in a salt brine with fresh herbs and garlic.

Fido Jars make pickling effortless, and do a wonderful job of keeping pickles and sauerkraut crunchy, but we are now eating pickles from last summer…which means I can make soup from the pickles leftover from the summer before that.

Russia has a pickle soup, but it seems that Poland is the true homeland of Zupa Ogórkowa. Recipes abound online, but I used this one as a base, lifted flavours from a couple of other recipes, and modified to suit our fondness for creamy potato.

Dill Pickle Soup

  • 10 cups of chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup pickle juice
  • 150 gms. (1 ¼ cups) carrots, chopped small
  • 1000 gms. (8 cups) potatoes, cut to the size of game dice
  • 125 gms. (1 cup) celery, thinly sliced
  • 450 gms. (3 cups) dill pickles, coarsely grated
  • 3 tsp. grated garlic
  • pinch or two of dried dill weed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil about half of the potatoes in stock until they are soft, then purée with a stick blender.

Add everything except the milk, flour, egg and sour cream and cook another 15 or so minutes, until the potatoes are just soft.

Stir together the milk and flour, then add a bit of hot broth and stir again. Add to soup and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil and stir until thickened.

Remove soup from heat. Thoroughly beat egg and sour cream together, and slowly add to the soup.

Serve garnished with fresh herbs or a dollop of sour cream.

Makes 12 hearty servings

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So that is pickle soup, but I would like to just add a little bit of trivia down here…

We don’t often keep sour cream in our house, so Carmen quickly curdled some milk with lemon juice—one tablespoon of juice and four tablespoons of milk made a thick cream quick.

Using lemon juice or vinegar is a rush job of what would traditionally be called clabbering, or letting dairy be soured…by the same lactofermentation that pickles our cukes or sauerkraut, and for the same reasons—to preserve food without refrigeration.

Lactobacilli produce acid as they eat sugars, and this acid creates an inhospitable environment for pathogens. We can assist our friendly bacteria by creating an environment in which they thrive. Mostly we do this by keeping them a titch warmer than room temperature, and, in the case of fermenting vegetables, by also adding salt.

This acid creates the pucker of pickles and the sour of sour cream.

I first ran across clabbered milk when I was researching the safety of drinking raw milk, and it highlights one of the big compromises we tend to make in our “modern” industrialized society.

Industrialization brought the milk of dozens of dairies together in one big tank, so pathogens from one dairy could infect the whole load. Perhaps because the milk run trains were running in the cool of the morning, the conditions were not hospitable for the protective bacteria which would have soured the milk. So the pathogens took over, and lots of people got sick.

The obvious thing is to abandon industrialization—naturally—and scale back to a convivial life lived in harmony with the natural cycles.

I am sorry. I mean the obvious thing it to cook the milk and kill everything in it—Pasteurization. But Pasteurization kills the lactobacillus as well as the pathogens, so when your milk goes off now it is greenish and foul—not what you want to leaven your pancakes.

Raw milk doesn’t go off, it just transforms into other food products: sour cream, yogourt, buttermilk, and sour milk. You can still make sour milk products from Pasteurized milk, but you have to reinoculate the milk with lactobacillus.

Anyhow. Clabbering is a thing—and it turns out it is a Gaelic word. Read more about it and find the Anglo-Saxon term at Cook’s Info.

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