There are many versions of tomato soup – some people just add tomato puree or a tin of tomatoes to rosół, (chicken bullion). For many this was standard practice on Monday with any that was left over from Sunday lunch and also in winter months in the past when fresh tomatoes were not so readily available.
I prefer to make a more refreshing fresh tomato soup.
Ripe tomatoes make the best soup – if you are lucky enough to have your own from the garden or allotment then these will be great or look out for ripe tomatoes on a market rather than the hard bullet ones often sold for salads.
Many years ago, well before Poland joined the European Union, when there were not as many Poles living in England, one of my English friends went for dinner at at a Polish lady’s house. On telling me about the lovely food she said ” ….we had tomato soup with rice in it!” My instant reply without thinking was “but tomato soup always has rice in it”.
700g – 800g of ripe fresh tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium onions
1.5 litres of vegetable stock – came be from a cube or powder
Salt & ground pepper to taste
A little granulated sugar – optional – might not be needed.
Boiled rice to serve
Pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a bowl and leave to cool.
Skin the tomatoes.
Chop the tomatoes into quarter.
Chop the onion into fine pieces.
Place the tomatoes, onion and vegetable stock into a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil and then put on the lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
You want the tomatoes and onions to have cooked away into the liquid -no large pieces left.
Season to taste.
Although sour soups are popular in Poland – tomato soup does not want to be sour. Depending on the tomatoes used, I sometimes add a little granulated sugar.
To serve place a handful of cooked boiled rice into each soup plate.
Served here in my mother’s Crown Devon – Fieldings – Glenwood soup plates – made in England – 1939.
Gherkins are cucumbers that have been fermented in brine or pickled with vinegar.
Botanically cucumbers are fruit although they are a vegetables from the culinary point of view.
In Polish the word ogórki means cucumbers.
Kiszoneogórki means fermented cucumbers – either in brine or vinegar.
Letnieogórki means summer cucumbers – which are fresh salad cucumbers.
The Latin name for the cucumber is Cucumis sativus and it is a member of the gourd family and so related to pumpkins and melons.
It is thought the plant originated in India and then was taken to Greece and from there to northern Europe.
I have read that the making of pickles by fermenting in brine is over 4,000 years old. This would preserve vegetables throughout the winter – well before the days of frozen food and supermarkets!
A quick look at the journey of the word –Gherkin – according to several dictionary sources.
This is a word that started in Greece and travelled to England & America via Poland, Germany and The Netherlands.
Angourion – Medieval Greek for cucumber.
Ogórek – Polish for cucumber
Gurke – German for cucumber
Augurk – Dutch for a brined or pickled cucumber
Gherkin – English for a brined or pickled cucumber
In Poland, July & August are the main months for making gherkins at home and once when I was there at that time in my relatives’ houses every container seemed to have been put into use for a stage in their production.
Everyone has their own special recipe using brine and sometimes vinegar with the addition of garlic and herbs and spices – the most often used is the flower head of the dill plant – hence we get dill pickles. Some methods are very quick taking just a few days others take longer.
The type of cucumber used is a different variety than the salad cumber it is shorter, fatter, often knobbier and has a lower water content.
I cannot at the moment give you a good recipe for making gherkins as I have rarely seen the right variety of cucumbers for sale in England – maybe now with more Polish shops I might see some next year and try out some recipes.
The bought gherkins I like are the Polish Krakus ones.
Another type I like are ones you can buy in Lidl – these are made with sugar and vinegar and are sliced lengthways – they have only a slight vinegar taste and are sweet – I do not like the very vinegary kind.
There are many uses of gherkins in Polish cookery – the most famous must be gherkin soup – which I just love – but that recipe I will cover later once I start to write about soups.
Of course gherkins – form part of many salads.
Gherkin and Tomato Salad
3 or 4 Gherkins – cut into discs
4 or 5 Tomatoes- cut into half & then thinly sliced
1 small onion – finely chopped
Flat-leaved parsley – finely chopped – to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl mix together the gherkins, tomatoes and onions.
Sprinkle with a little salt and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the gherkin jar (if none is available then use some lemon juice) and mix again.
Place into a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped flat leaved parsley and freshly ground black pepper.
The tomato is botanically the fruit of Solanum lycopersicum, although from a culinary point of view it is a vegetable.
It belongs to the deadly nightshade family as does the potato.
The tomato plant originated in the Andes in South America and tomatl was the name in the Nahuatl language give to it by the Aztec people, which then became tomate and then tomato in English.
The tomato was brought over to Europe by the Conquistadors in the late 15th Century.
The original fruits were yellow hence the Italian name pomodoro (pomo d’oro – apple of gold).
When the Italian princess, who became Queen Bona of Poland on her marriage to King Zygmunt the Old, came to Poland with her chefs in the 16th Century , the tomato was introduced to the Polish diet.
Tomato in Polish is pomidor – so you can see or rather hear its Italian root.
Home grown tomatoes are of course the best, however here in the North of England I have not had much success in growing them outdoors.
To get the best flavour from tomatoes it is best NOT to keep them in the refrigerator.
A simple tomato salad is served in Poland, always it seemed to me with the addition of onions, chives or the green part of spring onion. For many it is standard fare for breakfast with cold meats or Polish curd cheese.
Tomatoes – thinly sliced into whole rounds if small or halved if large.
Half an onion – finely chopped or
Chives or the green part of spring onions – finely chopped