Polish Dill Pickled Cucumber Soup
I love dill pickles for their salty-sourness and the crunch. I put them on a sandwich or use in salads. Most of the time I just grab one from the fridge as a healthy snack full of probiotic bacteria and enzymes that increase the health of our gut microbiome and overall immunity. This time, however, we are going to prepare a Polish soup based on chicken bullion and those amazing pickled cucumbers. You can pickle yourself as they are in season now and you should be able to buy them on your local food market, if not you can always buy ready-made ones that come in the jar in your local supermarket.
Ingredients for pickled cucumbers:
2kg (4.4pounds) pickling cucumbers
1 garlic head, peeled
100g (3.5oz) of horseradish root
1 horseradish leaf (optional)
200g (7oz) of fresh dill - stems, leaves and flowers
5 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
around 2,5L (2.64quarts) Pickling brine (1,5 - 2tbsp of rock salt per litre of hot water (sea salt contains iodine that kills the microbes needed for fermentation)
A big jar or few smaller ones (I used 4L (4.2quarts) and there was plenty of space)
Method for pickles:
Prepare the brine by boiling water, add salt and stir until dissolved. Next, leave it to cool down to body temperature (if you use hot water you will kill all the microbes needed for fermentation).
Arrange spices, herbs and leaves at the bottom of the jar and cucumbers on the top of them packed tightly. When the liquid is tepid, pour it into the jar, enough to just cover the cucumbers and discard the rest.
Now we need to create an aerobic environment at the surface of the pickle. To do so cover it with a layer of cling film and press down with something heavy to help cucumbers to stay in the brine.
Cover the top with a cloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Ferment for 2-3 days to get cucumbers super crunchy but less sour or to 7-10 days for proper ones that are required for this recipe.
Once the desired texture and flavour is achieved, store in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Keep in mind that fermentation still happens in the refrigeration just at a slower rate.
Ingredients for the soup:
2 chicken legs cut in half
2 big carrots, peeled and diced
1 big onion, peeled and cut in quarters
5 garlic cloves
50g (1.7oz) celery
1,5L (1.6quarts)of water
4-5 big dill pickled cucumbers grated or cut in small dice.
150ml (0.16quarts) of dill pickle liquid
80g (2.8oz) of cooked rice (jasmine or long grain is fine)
2tbsp of single cream
parsley to garnish
salt and pepper
fresh bread to go with it (optional)
Method for the soup:
In to a medium pot, add chicken legs, onions, garlic, celery but no carrots. cover with 1,5L (1.6quarts) of water and bring to the boil then reduce to simmer covered with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
After that time add carrots and simmer for another 15 minutes. When the carrots are soft add grated cucumbers and 150ml (0.16quarts) of brine and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Mix the cream with one ladle of soup and pour back into the pot, season to your taste and serve with fresh bread. Add some picked chicken meat and cooked rice. Enjoy!
You can experiment with adding a few different leaves to your pickles:
Currant leaves - They add distinctive aroma and help to keep cucumbers harder.
Cherry leaves - Natural preservative, unique aroma, reduces bitterness (some cucumbers can be bitter).
Grape leaves - Improved flavour and texture.
Oak leaves - Natural preservative, helps to keep cucumbers harder (do not add too many as they are bitter).