This deliciously sour cucumber soup (zupa ogórkowa) is a traditional Polish dish, very popular in Poland. The soup is quite unlike any soup you’ve ever tasted, with a unique flavor that’s very fresh and refreshing.
It’s an easy-to-make recipe but it requires brined cucumbers (i.e., cucumbers preserved in water with garlic, dill and spices), NOT the ones pickled in vinegar. It is this brine that makes the soup special. The process of natural fermentation in brine is how the cucumbers develop their sour taste – no vinegar is involved.
Now I promise it’s not what you think. The tanginess of the pickles combined with cream and fresh dill gives it a very refreshing flavor, making it a perfect recipe for a spring or summer meal.
In any case, I urge you to try the Polish cucumber soup and post a comment to let me know what you think.
Polish Cucumber Soup
- 6 cups of water
- 1 onion, diced or 1 medium leek, white and light-green parts, rinsed well, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large carrots (peeled and finely diced)
- 1 parsnip (peeled, trimmed and finely diced), optional
- 1/2 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled and finely diced, or 2 celery stalks, trimmed; chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 8 large pickled cucumbers (pickled in brine as opposed to vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan margarine (optional)
- A handful of fresh dill
- 1/4 cup of raw cashews (optional)
- Place onion and garlic in a large stock pot and cook for 2-3 minutes in 2-3 tablespoons of water.
- Add 5 cups water, a bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to cook for around 15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked. You may add some pepper, but I wouldn’t add any salt at this point, as the brine is quite salty on its own.
- Meanwhile, grate or process (but not too finely) the pickles. In traditional recipes, the cucumbers are peeled, grated and fried in butter before being added to the pot. You can do that by using vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance. What you can do, instead, is just blend the cucumbers whole in brine in my Vitamix. I used all of the cucumbers and all of the brine from the package. I like to add quite a lot of the brine to the soup as I really loved the sour taste, but you may choose to add a little less and see how you like it first. Add the grated or blended pickles (including the juice) to the soup.
- Now, make the cashew cream (this is the secret ingredient to cholesterol-free creamy soups, such as this cream of asparagus or cream of celeriac soup). In the Vitamix, blend the cashews with 1 cup water on high until very smooth. Add to the soup.
- Taste the soup and adjust the flavors to your liking. The soup should have a pleasantly sour taste. If you saved part of the dill pickle juice/brine and you want the soup to be more sour, add some more brine to the soup. If you want a thinner soup, add a little water. Mash or blend some potatoes and veggies if you want a thicker soup.
- Ladle your soup into your serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh dill. Serve with a piece of crusty bread.
This works better if you use homemade sour pickles, but good sour dill pickles will do.
When I was growing up, brined cucumbers were always present in my home. My father used to make them in the summer when fresh cucumbers are readily available (with lots of dill and garlic; in Polish these are called ogórki kiszone, in English often referred to as Polish dill pickles). We would save some in jars for winter, but we also used to buy them at the farmer’s market from a wooden barrel.
If you have a Polish store in your neighborhood, you can try to find Krakus brand, but others will do just fine. In New Jersey, where I live right now, there is a big Polish population, so you can find them in many stores. Even my farmer’s market sells them in brine from a big wooden barrel.
This cucumber soup is a great make-ahead dish. The soup (minus the dill) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For all my blending recipes I use Vitamix. If you don’t already own a VitaMix, I strongly encourage you to check out what this machine is capable of! For more information about VitaMix you can go directly to the VitaMix website. You may also want to read my post about the Best Blender.
I LOVE my VitaMix and highly recommend investing in one if you are ready to make serious changes to your diet. I have had mine for almost 5 years and use it daily!
If you decide to purchase Vitamix – be sure to use Promotional Code 06-004554 to get free shipping.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
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