Ogórkowa – Gherkin soup

Four years of blogging today!

I can hardly believe it!  I posted my first post four years ago today. The time has gone so quickly and there is still much more to do.

This will be post number 208 – so averaging at 1 per week.

Today it just has to be a very Polish recipe.

Ogórkowa gherkin soup is a classic Polish soup.

It is sour and as I have written before, this is a taste much loved by the Poles!

It can be made in the winter from stored ingredients but it is also very refreshing on a summer’s day.

The most traditional soup is made from brine fermented gherkins but you can use pickled gherkins.

 

Ingredients

  • 250g gherkins
  • 125ml  gherkin liquid
  • 1.5 litres of soup greens/vegetable stock (can be from cubes or powder)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled – boiled or steamed
  • 125ml of soured cream
  • Chopped dill to serve

Method

If you have some potatoes boiled already this is a very quick soup to make.

  • Add the gherkin liquid to the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  • Rough chop the gherkins.
  • Drop the gherkins into the liquid and simmer for around 20 -25 minutes.
  • Chop the boiled potatoes into rough cubes.
  • Add the potatoes, stir and simmer for around 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the soured cream and chopped dill.

 

Using brine fermented gherkins

 

 

Served in Royal Doulton, Burgundy soup plates, 1959 – 1981.

Using pickled dill gherkins

 

Served in Royal Doulton, Tapestry soup plates, 1966 – 1988.

Pea Salad

In earlier times this would have been made with bottled or tinned garden peas – nowadays I make this with cooked frozen peas.

The peas and Gouda cheese make this salad sweet and creamy.

Ingredients

Around 400ml of frozen peas -cooked and cooled

4 hardboiled eggs – chopped

3 large gherkins – chopped into little cubes

200g of Gouda(or similar) cheese – chopped into cubes

1 small onion – chopped fine

2 tablespoons of Mayonaise (full fat is best)

1 tablespoon of Greek style yoghurt

Salt & Pepper to taste.

Method

In a bowl mix all the vegetables and the cheese together.

Add the mayonnaise and yoghurt and mix well.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Serve with hot or cold roast meats or smoked Polish sausage.

 

Variation

I think the addition of 2 or 3 strips of chopped herrings as in my herring salads would be good.

Will try this later and let you know!

Polish Potato Salads

Potato salad is very popular in Poland especially as it can be made nearly all year round.

This can be served with cold meats and Polish style sausages as well as with hot dishes such as roast pork or chicken.

I like to make potato salad using starchy potatoes as I love the soft fluffy texture.

My favourite starchy potatoes are King Edward and Maris Piper.

The King Edward variety was introduced in the  United Kingdom in 1902 and was named after King Edward VII as this was his coronation year.

The Maris Piper variety was released in 1966  and was named after  Maris Lane in Trumpington on the outskirts of  Cambridge which at that time was the home of the Plant Breeding Institute.

Classic Potato Salad

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Ingredients

Starchy Potatoes – from 3 large potatoes upwards

1/2 – 1 onion – chopped fine

Mayonnaise – I like to use Hellmans – original or light

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Peel the potatoes and cut any large potatoes into quarters and then boil or steam them to cook them.

Strain the cooked potatoes in a colander and leave them to cool slightly.

Rough chop the cooked potatoes using a knife or a spoon – you do not want the pieces to be too uniform in size.

Add the chopped onion to the potatoes and then several tablespoonfuls of mayonnaise and mix together.

I like to use potatoes that are still slightly warm as I find the mayonnaise coats them better.

However you can use cold potatoes – maybe some you have left from another meal – the salad will still be good.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Leave to cool completely before serving.

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Simple Classic Potato Salad

Variations on the Classic Salad

Potato Salad with Gherkins

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Chop 2 or 3 gherkins and add these to the Potato Salad.

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Chopped Gherkins

 

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Potato Salad with Gherkins

Potato Salad with Gherkins and Boiled Eggs

Chop 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs and add these to the potato salad with the gherkins.

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Chopped Hard Boiled Eggs
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Potato Salad with Gherkins and Hard Boiled Eggs

Potato Salad with Peas

Cook some frozen peas and add these to the classic potato salad

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Cooked Peas
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Potato Salad with Peas

Ogórki – Gherkins

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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.

Kiszone ogórki  means  fermented cucumbers –  either in brine or vinegar.

Letnie ogórki 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.

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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.

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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.

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Gherkins Sliced Lengthways – a very simple salad

Gherkin and Tomato  Salad

Ingredients

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.

Method

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.

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Classic Polish Curd Cheese Mixtures

Twaróg – Polish Curd Cheese  is used extensively in cooking and finds its way in many guises onto the Polish menu, especially at home, both in sweet and savoury dishes.

The following are what I consider to be  popular classic savoury  fresh cheese mixtures and are often served for breakfast with bread and salad.

Here in England I think they could be served at lunchtime. As well as with bread and rolls they can be served with crisp-breads, oatcakes or crackers.

3 Classic Curd Cheese Mixtures

You can make these with Twaróg – Curd Cheese or with Cream Cheese.

You can also use yoghurt cheese – (Look out for a post on how to make this later).

The amounts used are just approximate, using  one packet of cheese, which is normally around  200g – 300g,  for each mixture and can be varied to taste.

If using curd cheese, add a pinch or two of salt and a couple of spoonfuls of soured cream, mix together until smooth.

If using cream cheese just take it out of the packet and mix it in a bowl –  you can add a spoonful or two of soured cream to make it a  softer consistency if you wish.

Mixture 1

To the cheese add a few tablespoons of finely chopped chives or the green parts of spring onions.

In Poland  szczypiorek (which in dictionaries is given as chives) would be used – however I think it is slightly different and is much larger than the chives I grow here in England.

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Chives Growing in a Pot

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Spring Onions and Chives
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Curd Cheese and Chives

Mixture 2

To the cheese add a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds

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Curd Cheese and Caraway Seeds

Mixture 3

To the cheese add some chopped gherkins

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I find these are the best gherkins to use as they are not vinegary.

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Chopped Gherkins
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Curd Cheese and Gherkins

 

Typical Polish Breakfast Fare

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These cheese mixtures can also be served with bliny  -little buckwheat pancakes.  (Look out for a  a post on how to make these later).