This is my take on a classic Polish and Eastern European soup. But let’s be clear: it is not supposed to be made with vinegar pickles. For the right flavor, you need sour garlic dills.
Don’t worry if you don’t make or have your own garlic dill ferment pickles. First off, here’s my recipe for homemade, ready in 5-7 days. But if you ain’t got time for all that, Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles are available at all Whole Foods and in many other health food stores. Trust me, they’re the gold standard. Oregon Brineworks also makes some amazing pickles and if you order three jars from Amazon, shipping is free.
This is a traditional recipe with nothing really “insane” about it (although I did add some of my pickle hot sauce to a bowl last night and that was epic). Depending on your tastes, you can use more or less of the pickles and pickle brine. I recommend up to about 2 cups.
However, it is worth knowing if you’re new to this that, because of the many other ingredients and cooking process, the soup surprisingly doesn’t have a strong sour or pickle flavor. The additions of the sour pickles and brine just sort of deepen the flavor profile and make the soup more savory and dilly. For that reason, I think you can use your pickles and brine liberally. If you’re not sure, just add perhaps 1/4 cup at a time, stir, and taste test.
To make this a vegetarian or vegan soup, substitute chicken broth with vegetable, and skip the egg yolks as desired (Step 4 below).
Now let’s do this!
You will need:
- Knife & cutting board
- Large saucepan / stock pot & wooden spoon
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Small mixing bowl and whisk
- Blender or immersion blender
- Optional: grater (the pickles may be grated or thin sliced)
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled & chopped
- 1 1/4 cup chopped or sliced celery
- 1 1/4 cup chopped or sliced carrots
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- ~4-5 salad-type potatoes (e.g. Red-skinned, Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold), peeled and 1/2″ diced
- 1 cup grated garlic dill pickle (~4 pickles)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-2 cups pickle ferment brine
- 2-3 TBSP fresh chopped dill
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
1.) Prep all the vegetables as noted above. Grate the pickles. Place a large stock pot over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add in the onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.) Once the veggies have softened, add the diced potatoes, broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce, cover and simmer the soup for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Then remove the bay leaf.
3.) Use an immersion blender to puree the soup a little to thicken the base; do not fully puree. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, add around two cups of the soup – mostly the veggies – to a blender and blend until smooth. Then return it to the pot.)
4.) Then, remove one cup of the soup base from the pot, transfer it to the bowl and stir to cool. Pour in the egg yolks into the small bowl and quickly whisk it so that the eggs don’t scramble. Then whisk the egg/soup mixture back into the pot. Simmer the soup covered for five more minutes. This gives the entire pot of soup a wonderful, smooth texture and attractive color.
5.) Uncover the pot, remove from heat, and immediately add in the grated or sliced pickles, cup of pickle ferment brine, and fresh dill. Stir and taste the soup. If you prefer more ferment brine, continue to add until desired taste. It’s ready to serve!
Since the pickles, brine, and possibly the broth have salt, you may or may not wish to salt the soup. Wait until the end and after tasting, add salt as desired (typically 1 tsp or less needed).