When Life Gives You Pickles, Make Soup

Dill pickle soup is one of those traditional dishes I always wondered about. In Polish, it’s called zupa ogórkowa, or salted cucumber soup. And, sure salting cucumbers is a great way to pickle them. But, why would you want to make them into a soup? As my sister reminded me: “By the end of winter, Polish peasants were probably so sick of pickles, they were just looking for a different way to eat them.” Poor Polish peasants.

Another question you might be asking right now is: Why would you want to make dill pickle soup?

Well, it all started at our Independence Day BBQ. This year, I went with an Americana theme. (Yes, in past years, I have celebrated the birth of our nation by cooking Mexican or Moroccan food. We are a nation of immigrants, mind you.) When I was searching for what is typical of American BBQs, (Yes, I had to do an interweb search. Could you stop with the questions?) I came across pickles as being an integral part of the meal. I went to the store and found a giant jar from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Score one for local!

Too bad they were awful pickles. Everyone who tried one said, “Hmmm… not really what I was expecting. It tastes like a pickle, but not at all. And, it’s crunchy but not crunchy.” And, then they would politely put it to the side of their plate and take a large sip of beer. Needless to say, I was stuck with a mostly full giant jar of pickles that didn’t taste quite right. What better way to use them up then by grating them into soup?

This recipe came from a book (sorry can’t remember the name), and I’m going to make a ton of modifications in the Results section.

Dill Pickle Soup

Serves 12

  • 6 C beef broth (If you use canned, use low-sodium. Between this and the pickles, you’ll probably have enough sodium in your system that deer will be trailing around behind you. Also, veggie broth will obviously make this veg-friendly.)
  • 2 T instant flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T soft butter
  • 4 large dill pickles, shredded
  • 2/3 C liquid from pickle jar
  • 2 ½ C boiled, sliced potatoes

First stop is to boil and slice the potatoes. This will go much better if you do that part first. The recipe doesn’t mention it, but I’d suggest peeling them as well. While the potatoes are boiling, start shredding your pickles into a bowl. They will be juicy.

Bring broth to a boil. In the measuring cup, mix the flour and milk. (For those wondering about instant flour, it’s a real treat. It comes in a shaker. You know, for when you just need a little dusting of weirdly processed wheat product. If I found it at my standard grocery, you should be able to find it at yours… probably not Whole Foods though.) Add milk/flour to broth and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and butter. Add to broth. (I would eliminate the egg yolk as what you will get is tiny scrambled egg bits. Ew. If you do add them, do so slowly and with a whisk.) Add pickles, pickle liquid, and potatoes. Heat, but do not boil.

Serve with dark bread (like pumpernickel).


You’re probably wondering whether or not putting awful tasting pickles in a soup makes them taste better. I can attest to the fact that it does. Very salty, but very good. I wanted to share that this recipe is actually good before I shared the picture. Because it looks awful:

Dill pickle soup in a pot

I suspect that the sheen is due to instant flour. And, the brown-gray color is how I imagine Poland looks in the long winter months. (I am just assuming as I have yet to visit, but with all the carbs and crazy foodstuffs, I can only conjure up pictures of barren trees and rust belt-type buildings.) Oh, and the soup has an odd tendency to separate. Yum!

After discussion with Emily (who shared a few bowls with me), we agreed upon the following changes:

  • Add more potatoes. Woefully inadequate.
  • Puree part of the soup after adding the potatoes. So, you’d have a thicker broth, but still have some potato and pickle chunks.
  • Add a bit of sour cream or hot sauce. It was salty, but needed a bit of tang to it.
  • Oh, and pepper, it could use a bit of pepper.
  • I also suggested adding a few pierogi, but Emily thought that was overkill.

This is definitely a dish that you would serve as a soup course…. rather than a main course soup/stew. A big bowl is a bit too much pickle. But despite it’s odd texture, slight sheen, and sad color, it tasted exactly like pickle soup should taste.


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  1. #1 by kostielney on 9.21.2012 - 12:54 pm

    potato dumplings,like granny used to make, might do the trick………

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