A lot of people have never heard of this soup, and many others seem to make funny faces just at the mention of its name. I have to give credit to my mom for teaching me how to make this soup. However, never being able to leave well enough alone I’ve made some changes through the years. Like all soups, you can be flexible with the ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes. The following recipe is the one that I have created. I will include the brand names of the items that I use but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Once you have this soup you will find yourself making it regularly and sharing the love of this Polish soup with friends and family. Legend has it that this soup was created for pregnant women in Poland who were having cravings for dill pickles. Now I have mentioned being flexible, however the one area I am never flexible on is on the pickles I use. I strictly use Krakus Polish Dill Pickles as I think they have the perfect balance of flavors for this soup. Ok, maybe I have strayed a few times with other brands but I have always come back to the Krakus. Whatever you do at least use Polish Dill Pickles and not some of the large name brands from the grocery stores. Trust me on this, the flavor of the brine is different. Here is what you will need to dazzle your friends and family with a unique soup that deserves a place in your repertoire.
2 quarts of chicken stock (see cooks note at the bottom for my variation)
2 medium carrots shredded (I use a standard hand grater)
1 medium potato peeled and diced (I like Yukon Gold)
3 medium celery stalks finely sliced
5 to 8 shredded Polish Dill Pickles depending on the size (Polish pickles are smaller than other brands in the large chain stores)
Pickle Brine to taste (depending on personal preference)
1/4 cup of long cooking pearl barley
1/2 cup of whole milk
2 tablespoons of flour
5 tablespoons of sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
COOKS NOTE: I have used several broth variations for this recipe through the years including homemade. What I have found to be the best and many have agreed is the following: 2 cups of Swanson beef broth (yes beef). 2 cups of Swanson chicken broth. 1 quart of water mixed with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Better Than Bullion chicken base.
DIRECTIONS: Simmer the barley in a separate pan for about 30 minutes on low, drain and rinse, set aside. Combine the broth, carrots, potato, celery, and the cooked barley and simmer until the potato is tender but not falling apart (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add the shredded pickles and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add brine at this time if desired. Whisk the milk with the flour in one bowl until smooth. Beat the egg with the sour cream in another bowl until smooth. You need to temper both the milk and flour mixture as well as the sour cream and egg mixture. Here is how to do it. Take a ladle of the hot soup and put it in the flour/milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add to the soup and simmer until slightly thickened. Do the same with the sour cream/egg mixture as well. Remove the soup from the heat and add the sour cream mixture making sure there are no clumps and stirring well. Do not boil after this point or the soup can curdle. I have found that if you cover the soup with a lid and leave on the hot (but turned off) burner this helps dissolve any clumps until you get better at creaming this soup. I love to serve this with thick sliced European sour dough bread. Grunt, grown, enjoy and wonder how you ever lived without this wonderful soup.