Pickle Soup

Polish Pickle Soup

It was a glorious spring day, in the way that only May can deliver in Southern Oregon.  The fields and mountains were green, the apple blossoms sprinkled the ground with petals, and the scent of lilacs wafted through the air.  I was at a gathering of neighbors. Tom and I were talking about, well what else, fermenting vegetables.  Pickles, to be exact.  He shared with me that his ex-wife was Polish and she grated pickles in  soups.  I was intrigued and went home with some concepts, but mostly wanted to grate a pickle.  One of our sons said it is his new favorite.

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots sliced
3 cups rich chicken bone broth, or vegetarian broth
2 tablespoons butter, or sunflower oil
6-7 green onions sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon dried dill weed, or a couple of sprigs fresh chopped leaf     

1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 large dill pickles, grated
1 cup pickle brine
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with fresh chives and sliced hard boiled eggs

You will want to choose a soup pot that is made from a non-reactive material, as this soup contains brine.  The acidity can leach from the reactive metals.  See chapter on Crocks, Rocks, and tools of the trade.
In the first pot you will put the potato cubes, carrot slices, and the broth.  Bring this to a boil, simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.
In a soup pot, heat the butter or oil over medium heat.  Toss in the green onions, garlic, and mustard seeds, stirring often cook until the onions and garlic are soft, but not browned.  At this point transfer the potato carrot mixture to this pot.  Take a potato masher and gently mash the vegetables.   You only want to break them up a bit, allowing the potatoes to loose the chunky shape.  This will thicken your soup.  Add the brine, the grated pickles, and dill weed.  Bring this to a simmer, continue to cook for a few minutes allowing the flavors to meld.  If the soup is too thick you may add a bit more brine or broth. When it is pleasing add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the chives and sliced eggs.

Footnote on Rich Chicken Bone Broth:
There are many recipes for making soup stocks, truly the basis, or foundation of the flavor of your soups.  Stocks are easy,  to make and then to freeze for a more instant ingredient. They just require a bit of planning.  I do not claim the final word on broths but will share what I do.  I will  take a whole chicken put in a stock pot with any ‘extras’ that came in it.  Though I am finding most chickens don’t give you the neck or giblets these days.  I cover it with cold water and bring it to a full boil.  Then turn the heat down immediately.  I have read that this helps draw the flavor.  Skim of any foam that develops, carefully as to not remove the fat.
I let this simmer for about an hour, I then remove the whole chicken from the broth and cut off the meat, in which to make a dish such as enchiladas.  Then all the bits, skin, bones, and  cartilage go back into the pot.  At the point I will add some vegetables if I have them; half an onion, celery ends, and carrots.  I also add a tablespoon of vinegar to draw the minerals from the bones. I start the pot to simmer again, this time I will let it cook all day, this can be 6 - 12 hours.
I strain every thing out, and this becomes the base.  I use what I need or freeze portions in mason jars.