The book that provided inspiration for this recipe is very old. It was, in fact, the first cookbook written in the Slovak language. The author Ján Babilon published it in 1870 in Pest (today’s Budapest), where he owned a restaurant and worked as a chef.
There are 90 different soup recipes in Babilon’s cookbook, and while many of them are still in use today, others sound quite outlandish. Would you like the Wine Soup for the Sick or the Political Soup? How about the Crayfish Soup, the strawberry or the chocolate one?
I finally chose to try the Hazelnut Soup, albeit I made a few changes to the original recipe: we had a bag of walnuts left after Christmas from a friend’s garden, so I used them in place of hazelnuts; an addition of leek gave the soup more flavour and nutritional value.
I had to transform ancient weight units Babilon used in his book into the modern measurements and write more accurate instructions. Here is what I ended up with after a couple of experiments.
Creamy Walnut and Leek Soup
- 1 cup whole walnuts (about 100 g)
- 50 g butter
- a stick of leek (about 50 g)
- 1 litre water or vegetable stock
- 1 breadroll or a small baguette (60 g)
- 200 ml cooking cream
- Grind the walnuts. Slice and dice the breadroll. Rinse and thinly slice the leek.
- Melt the butter in a cooking pot over a low heat. Add the leek and roast until golden brown, stirring all the time. Stir in the ground walnuts and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
- Pour in the water or the vegetable stock. Increase the heat and slowly bring to the boil. Throw in the diced breadroll, stir well and adjust the heat to let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Pour in the cream and gently bring to the boil again, stirring all the time. Season with a pinch of salt and put aside. Divide into bowls and serve immediately.For someone who had primarily used walnuts for baking cakes, this soup was a really enjoyable discovery. Filling enough to stand on its own, or followed by a light main course, the Creamy Walnut and leek Soup will surely stay in my cooking repertoire.