One of my dearest friends in the world, Connie, is 100% Polish; she's also married to a man who's 100% Polish. They are some fabulous cooks, and make a kielbasa that is a true work of art and a most generous gift some years at Easter. (There are too many demands and insufficient quantity to feed all of the ravenous hordes, so I have resigned myself to not being on the "in" list every year ... alas!)
Anyway, Connie is a great cook, as I've already said. So when I went to a horrendously bad Polish restaurant last year, where the one and only redeeming food was the dill pickle soup (don't even ask how leaden and flavorless the blintzes were ... with a filling made from canned mushrooms!), I asked Connie if she would share her recipe with me. (She did; here's the post from AnnArbor.com. And that's her son Andrew, one of Jeremy's best friends, doing the "bunny ears," fyi.)
Connie's soup is very easy to make, and it is some seriously astounding comfort food. But the soup at the restaurant had some flecks of carrot, potatoes, and dill, which Connie's lacked.
So I tinkered a bit by using the original recipe as a base but then adding the other ingredients. It's still Connie's soup, in my opinion, just with a bit more stuff in it.
And it was truly, wonderfully, amazingly delicious!
It may sound odd to pour in juice from a pickle jar, but why use plain ol' water when you can add some depth of flavor? Connie's late mother-in-law used to add a bit of vinegar in her version of this Polish classic; but there's an entire jar full of brine just waiting to find a purpose other than swimming around cucumbers! Do it Connie's way, which she learned from her own mother, whom we call Busha ([BOO-shuh] = grandmother). Busha is in her late 90s now ... the woman knows a thing or two!
Polish Dill Pickle Soup
1 pound pre-cooked kielbasa
1 cup water + water to cover kielbasa
1 tablespoon bacon fat or butter
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 cup juice from a jar of dill pickles, preferably Polish
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped dill pickles
1 teaspoon dried dill
slices of caraway rye bread, toasted and buttered, because as Connie puts it: “Of course, you have to have a good rye bread to go along with it.”
Place the kielbasa into a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove the kielbasa from the saucepan saving the liquid, and slice to desired thickness.
Heat the bacon fat in a small skillet and saute the onion just until translucent. Add to the reserved cooking liquid.
Add the 1 cup of water, the pickle juice, salt and pepper to the saucepan with the onion. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and carrot; cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine the sour cream and the flour in a medium bowl, then slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the broth until smooth
Whisk this mixture back into the saucepan, bring just to a boil (small bubbles around the edge of the soup), then remove from heat.
Stir in the chopped pickles, the kielbasa and the dill. Serve hot, with the toasted rye on the side.
Makes 4 generous servings.