Decadent Sauerkraut Soup

The mercury plunged to -16ºC last night, which is not uncommon for January, especially in the northern parts of Slovakia and most of its valleys. Do you know what we do to survive such harsh winters? We have a list of old recipes and potent ingredients we return to when those nasty bacteria are getting at us, though it’s far from the only reason why we like to cook the Sauerkraut Soup or Kapustnica. As with most recipes, the soup has many variations, but what it can’t be short of is sauerkraut, garlic, dried forest mushrooms, and in some regions paprika, too.

Sauerkraut is finely chopped white cabbage that is layered with salt and left to ferment in crocks (earthenware pots). Properly cured sauerkraut has a wonderful microbial composition, is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, to name but a few minerals. It’s the richest and most natural source of C vitamin in our latitudes, which explains why all the stores in Slovakia are stocked with this staple all through the winter. Sauerkraut is also a very good source of fibre and antioxidants, it balances pH levels in the stomach and helps break down proteins.

I always put a wad of sauerkraut aside when cooking, and eat it raw. Delicious!

Decadent Sauerkraut Soup
Serves 8 – 10

  • 700 g sauerkraut
  • 2½ l water
  • 2 handfuls dried forest mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns, 3 allspice corns, 4 cloves
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 100 g dried cranberries or prunes
  • 200 ml cooking cream (12% fat content in Slovakia)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Soak the dried mushrooms in cold water for about an hour. Strain on a sieve and place in a large cooking pot.

Soak the dried mushrooms in cold water

Pour in the water and bring to the boil.  Add the bay leaves and the whole spices enclosed in a tea strainer. Adjust the heat and let simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes. Dice and add them to the simmering mushrooms. Peel the onion and the garlic. Rinse the cranberries/prunes on a sieve under running cold water.

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The Slovaks often add prunes to their sauerkraut soup, but dried cranberries are just as fine.

When the potatoes are tender, stir in the saeurkraut and the cranberries/prunes. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the cream with the flour until smooth. Add to the simmering stock and stir until it comes to the boil again. Throw in the paprika, stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bear in mind the salinity of the sauerkraut.

Serve hot in soup bowls.

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Decadent Sauerkraut Soup or Kapustnica

Don’t throw away the leftovers. The Sauerkraut Soup gets tastier the following day or afterwards, so keep it in the fridge and reheat it as many times as you need. It is a proven fact that this brings out even more of its flavours.

For festive occasions, we cook traditional kapustnica (Sauerkraut Soup) with home-made sausages or smoked ham, and often replace ‘single’ cream with crème fraiche (33% fat content in Slovakia).

Creamy Oyster Mushroom Soup

Calling Slovakia a mushroom power certainly isn’t an overstatement. We are lucky to have forests, woodlands, fields and meadows that normally brim with mushrooms of all kinds and sizes. Some come out as early as April when the ground becomes soft and warm enough after a long winter, and the spring rains provide sufficient moisture for mushrooms to grow.

Unfortunately, the weather was extremely dry last year with little chance to find mushrooms in the wild. My family are not only passionate pickers but great mushrooms eaters as well, and though they prefer wild mushrooms to cultivated ones, they never say no to a rich, flavourful oyster mushroom soup. My long-time, tried & tested recipe that I want to share with you now is also very simple.

Creamy Oyster Mushroom Soup
Serves 3 – 4

  • 300 g oyster mushrooms*
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 700 ml water
  • 200 ml sour cream (12% fat content in Slovakia)
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon fine flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 allspice corns
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • herbs to garnish
* I used firmer stems for the soup and tender caps for a creamy sauce poured over spaghetti.

Method:

Rinse the mushrooms with a little water and slice them.

Peel, wash and dice the potatoes. Take the milk and the sour cream out of the fridge and let warm to room temperature.

Warm a little oil in a cooking pot over a medium heat. Add the muhrooms and stir-fry for 3 – 5 minutes. Pour in the water, add the bay leaves and the allspice corns (encased in a tea strainer for an easy removal at a later stage). Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Stir well, bring to the boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Throw in the potatoes and continue cooking for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, put the sour cream and the milk in a mug and blend well. Add the flour and mix until a smooth ‘roux’ has formed.

Remove the allspice corns. Pour the creamy ‘roux’ in the cooked potatoes and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.

When the soup has thickened, turn off the heat and cover the pot to keep warm.

Rinse the fresh herbs and chop them. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the herbs and serve immediately.

Creamy Oyster Mushroom Soup

I used to have a friend who grew oyster mushrooms in his garden as a hobby. He would bring me huge clusters of aromatic, beautifully shaped snow-grey caps that kept so well in the fridge. My son, who has never been a great fan of soups, had no problem to finish a whole pot of this particular one in a day. Now that I have lost contact with my farmer friend, I have to resort to store bought oyster mushrooms when I want to cook my family’s favourite. I wonder if my son can tell the diference. He seems to have a more refined palate now that he is older.

Slovak Sour Potato Soup

Quick and easy to do, simple, yet satisfying – that’s how this traditional Slovak soup could be described in a few words. The name hints at a piquant flavour the soup gets from vinegar.

I re-discovered the simple beauty of this classic dish while visiting Banska Stiavnica a couple of weeks ago. Surely the town’s ambience and the coziness of the restaurant I was eating in added to the experience. Anyway, the restaurant staff were happy to share with me the recipe, which I want to bring to a wider audience now. Hope you will enjoy it.

Slovak Sour Potato Soup
Serves 4 – 6

  • 250 g smoked ham in block
  • 1½ l water
  • 4 potatoes
  • 50 g bacon cubes
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fine flour
  • ½ l milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 heaped teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Place the ham in a cooking pot and pour in the water so that the meat is fully covered. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes. Take the milk out of the fridge and pour into a bowl to let it warm to room temperature.

In a small pot or sausepan, heat the bacon cubes over a low heat to let them sweat and melt, while producing fat for frying. Increase the heat to medium and stir in 1 heaped tablespoon of fine flour. Mix well until the flour is lightly charred and a smooth roux has formed. Set aside.

‘Roux’ for thickening the soup prepared on fried bacon

When the ham is cooked through, take it out and transfer onto a cutting board. Dice the potatoes and throw them in the meat stock. Add the bay leaves, peeled and crushed garlic and stir well. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Meanwhile, put 1 heaped tablespoon of fine flour into the bowl with the milk and mix well until smooth. Pour this milky mixture into the cooled bacon roux, add the paprika and stir well. Transfer into the simmering potatoes and bring to the boil. The soup will have thickened by now, so take it out of the heat and stir in the sugar and white vinegar. Serve hot with slices of fresh bread and chopped cooked ham, if preferred.

As you can see from the pictures above, I used a chilli pepper to spice up the soup, because my family like a little more heat in their food.

Slovak Sour Potato Soup can also be made without meat. In fact, that’s how we used to cook it decades ago when meat was saved for festive occasions in the Slovak kitchen.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg

Did you know people ate lentils as early as 13000 BC? At least that’s what archeologists say. No matter how accurate their findings are, the lentil has been part of the human diet for, well – quite some time! And rightly so.

The lentil is low on fat and rich in protein, in fact, it’s got the second highest content of protein among legumes, following soybeans. Although it was considered the food of the poor in the past, the lentil is becoming a popular staple in many modern households.

In my country’s folklore lentils have always been associated with prosperity because of their coin-like shape. That explains why a lentil soup is often served as a starter for the New Year’s Day meal in Slovakia.

I remember having lentils on my plate since I was aware what I was eating. Like most Slovak children these days, I was fed Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom or Lentil Stew with Fried Egg quite regularly in kindergarten. I still like it, I have to admit, and sometimes also cook it with meat to satisfy the carnivores in my family.

Here is a recipe for the Slovak lentil stew, which makes a filling, nutritious dinner, and takes about an hour to prepare.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg
Serves 4

  • 150 g lentils
  • 1 l water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 allspice corns
  • 4 medium-size potatoes
  • salt, black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ l milk
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fine flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • basil to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Method:

(you can use photos in this post as a guide, but note they were taken with slightly  different measurements)
  1. Rinse the lentils on a sieve under running water and transfer them into a cooking pot. Add the water, the bay leaves and the allspice corns (encased in a tea strainer for an easier removal at a later stage). Bring to the boil, then adjust the heat to let the lentils simmer for about 40 minutes or until they are almost done.
  2. Meanwhile, peel, wash and dice the potatoes. Peel and crush the garlic. Take the milk out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature.
  3. Add the potatoes and the garlic to the lentils, season to taste with salt and black pepper and stir well. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and break the eggs into it. Fry them over a medium heat, either all at once or in batches (this will depend on the size of your pan) Turn off the heat, sprinkle with salt and basil and cover to keep warm until you finish the lentils.
  5. When the lentils and the potatoes are tender, remove the allspice and the bay leaves. In a hand mixer or a blender, combine the milk with the flour until smooth. Pour the milk mixture in the lentils and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Set aside.
  6. Serve hot in bowls with the fried egg on top, and pieces of bread on the side. For a meaty option, add a fried sausage.

A few decades ago Slovakia was not only self-sufficient in lentil produce, but with its 500 hectares of lentil fields it was also seen as a European lentil power. Unfortunately, this is no longer true, so if we want to cook our traditional lentil dishes today, we often have to resort to imported lentils.

Lentil Stew with Fried Egg or Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom
Lentil Stew with Fried Egg or Šošovicový prívarok s volským okom

Beef Stew with Garden Peas

The second in the series of recipes from Vierka’s rural kitchen is this flavourful, sticky beef stew. Made from the meat of a locally raised young ox and home-grown vegetables, it was an absolute delight to eat. It came with a dollop of boiled rice covered in grated cheese.

My friend used her pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time while keeping all the flavours in. However, most Slovaks make their stew in a classical cooking pot, even though it takes much longer. Surely, you can do other small jobs while the meat is cooking, as long as you stir it occasionally and add more water when needed. The important rule here is that the meat is covered in simmering liquids until it is cooked to desirable tenderness.

Beef Stew with Garden Peas
Serves 4

1,2 kg beef                                                                 
2 tablespoons oil or pork fat
4 large onions                                                         

500 ml beer
water or vegetable stock as needed                                    

1 chilli                                                                       
300 g garden peas  (fresh, frozen or canned)                                               
200 – 300 g tomato purée                                    
salt and black pepper to taste
grated cheese (to sprinkle over the boiled rice)

For the marinade:  4 – 5 tablespoons oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 2 teaspoons paprika, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon curry powder

Method:

Wash the meat and pat it dry. Cut into cubes of about 2 cm wide. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients well and soak the beef cubes in it. Either use your hand or a spatula to spread the marinade all around the meat pieces. Let stand overnight in a cool, dark place.

Peel and chop the onions. Rinse the chilli. Put the oil or pork fat in a pressure cooker and throw in the chopped onions. Let them sweat over a medium heat until translucent, then add the marinated meat. Season with salt and black pepper, increase the heat and fry the meat cubes on all sides until deep brown. Pour in the beer and just enough water or vegetable stock to cover the meat. Stir well and lock the cooker lid in place. Bring the pressure cooker to a steady steam and cook for 20 – 40 minutes (depending on the cut of meat and its toughness).

Turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker stand on the stove/cooker plate for another 15 minutes, or until the steam stops coming from under the pressure valve.

When it is safe to open it, take the cooker lid off and add the garden peas, the chilli and the tomato purée. Bring to a simmer and cook together for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, take out the chilli, if preferred, and serve with boiled rice sprinkled with grated cheese.

Beef Stew with Garden Peas

For those who can’t do without meat, this certainly is a hearty, filling lunch/dinner that will keep you going for quite a few hours.

Rabbit Soup with a Garlic Roux

Here goes the first recipe from Vierka’s rural kitchen – a simple, wholesome soup with a punch of garlic that nicely complements the mild flavour of rabbit stock. The garlic roux, which is used to lightly thicken the soup, is very common in traditional Slovak cuisine, especially that of southern regions. Learn how to make your own ‘grated pasta’ to add another Slovak element to this light, nutritious meal.

Rabbit Soup with a Garlic Roux
Serves 4

ribs, neck and tail of a rabbit                                 
1½ litre water
1 medium size onion                                               
4 potatoes
3 carrots                                                                      
1 parsley root                                                             
fresh parsley leaves*
1 small celery root and/or kohlrabi                    

salt and black pepper to taste

For the pasta dough:

1 egg
10 heaped tablespoons flour 

For the thickening (roux):

2 tablespoons oil
½ tablespoon fine flour
4 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons paprika
250 – 300 ml water

*As you can see, we use both the root and the upper, green part of parsley to give our soups more flavour and colour. The whole vegetable can be bought fresh in our shops, or packaged separately.                                                                      

Method:

To make the pasta, beat the egg in a bowl with a fork. Gradually, add the flour and whisk it into the egg. At first, the fork will do the job, but with more flour added the dough becomes thicker, so you will need to use your hand and knead the dough until the ingredients are well combined, as shown in the photo below:

Cover with a dishtowel and put aside.

Peel and wash the carrots, the root parsley, celery and/or kohlrabi. If you are using an organic onion, peel the outer dry layer off with your hand, but leave the yellow underskin on. It will not only give your soup the characteristic flavour, but also a golden, sunny colour.

Wash the rabbit pieces and pat them dry. Put in a large cooking pot and fill up with the water. Bring to the boil, add the whole onion, celery and/or kohlrabi. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, stir well and adjust the heat to let the stock simmer for about 20 minutes.

Peel, wash and dice the potatoes. Slice the carrots and the root parsley. Add all the vegetables to the stock, stir well and cook for another 15 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender enough to your liking.

While the soup is cooking, rinse and chop the parsley leaves. Peel the garlic.

Make the pasta by passing the dough through the large holes of a grater onto a large serving or baking tray.

Let it drop all around the tray in a thin layer to prevent it from sticking together. When you are done, take the grated pasta by handfuls and throw it in the soup. Stir well and let cook for 3 – 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, prepare the roux by browning the flour in the oil over a medium heat. Remember to stir well all the time. Add the crushed garlic, the paprika and the water. Stir again and pour into the simmering soup. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and continue cooking for another minute.

Turn off the heat and pour into soup bowls. Serve hot with a sprinkle of chopped parsley leaves.

Rabbit Soup with a Punch of Garlic
Rabbit Soup with a Garlic Roux

If you want to follow the soup with something more substantial, why not try the Beef Stew with Garden Peas?

Pork Stew with Spiralled Pasta

When it comes to meat, pork is definitely the most popular in Slovakia, followed by chicken and other poultry like turkey, duck and geese. Although few Slovaks would call themselves vegetarians, we consume half as much meat per capita than in the USA, and less than two thirds of that in the UK.

As I wrote in the post on Braised Rabbit Thighs with Halushki, our cooking has been influenced by Hungarian cuisine, which is felt most strongly in the south of Slovakia, close to the Hungarian border.

The recipe below is another example of how our cuisines have blended over the centuries.

Pork Stew with Spiralled Pasta
Serves 4 – 6

1,2 kg pork
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium-sized onions
1 large carrot
1 chilli
2 tablespoons paprika
salt, black pepper, sage to taste
water or vegetable stock as needed
1 tablespoon fine flour for thickening 

Method:

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Rinse the meat and pat it dry. Cut into cubes of about 2 cm wide.

Warm a casserole dish on a cooker plate over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and add the onions. Let sweat for about 3 minutes or until translucent.

Throw in the pork cubes and add the salt. Increase the heat and quickly fry the meat from all sides until it releases juices. Turn down the heat and let simmer, stirring from time to time. When the meat juices have reduced, pour in as much water (or vegetable stock) as to cover the meat. Season with black pepper and bring to the boil. Stew over a medium heat for about 1½ hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water/vegetable stock if needed.

Meanwhile, peel and wash the carrot. Rinse the chilli. If you are using fresh sage as I did, wash and chop the herb. After about an hour, add the carrot and the chilli to the pork and cook together. Make sure the meat is always covered in liquids so as to cook regularly. When it is almost done, add to it the flour mixed in a little warm water. Stir well until the stew thickens, then add the paprika and the sage. Continue cooking over a low heat for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain on a sieve and divide into bowls. Ladle the pork stew on top of each helping and serve immediately.

Pork Stew with Spiralled Pasta

Enjoy the pleasant heat of this wholesome stew with the succulent pork bites nicely complemented by the peppery flavour of the sage.

Creamy Bean Soup

A great majority of Slovaks can’t imagine their day without a good, nourishing soup. Now that the days are getting shorter and colder with autumn setting its foot in Slovakia, a pot of warm, home-made soup is both an energizer and a delight. Especially if it’s so filling and healthy as a bean soup, which is often eaten as a meal on its own in my country.

Dry beans are known to be a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, B vitamin and iron. I’m not sure if our predecessors knew that, but beans have been part of Slovak cuisine since time immemorial. Indeed, they can be found in many of our traditional meals together with potatoes, sausages or ham. However, meatless bean recipes are also very common, and a bean soup is certainly one of the most popular.

We have grown our own varieties of legumes (including dry beans) for centuries, which also reflects in our traditional folk culture. There is an old Slovak song going like this:

Šošovička, hrášok fazuľa,
kde ste boli, tetka Zuzuľa?
Bola som ja po vodičku,
budem variť šošovičku.

It would loosely translate like this:

Lentils, peas and beans
Auntie Suzy, where have you been?
To get water from the well down the street
I’m gonna cook lentil soup for a meal.

When I spotted streaky giant dry beans in a local shop last week, I couldn’t resist buying a packet to make this creamy variation on a Slovak bean soup.

Creamy Bean Soup
Serves 4

250 g dry beans
water (about 2 l altogether)
4 large potatoes
200 g cream (12% fat content in Slovakia)
2 tablespoons fine flour
2 sprigs fresh dill or 4 teaspoons frozen one
salt, black pepper, marjoram to taste
2 tablespoons apple vinegar 

Method:

Rinse the dry beans thoroughly under running water. Soak them overnight in a large bowl filled with cold water. The beans will double in volume by the following day, so make sure there is enough water to cover them as they grow.

Drain the soaked beans on a sieve and discard the water. Remember that certain varieties of raw beans contain a toxin which is only destroyed in the process of cooking. Rinse the beans again under running water and put in a cooking pot with about 1½ l cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if/when needed.

Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes. Rinse and chop the dill. When the beans are almost tender, add to them the potatoes and bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat and cook together for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and marjoram.

In a small bowl, mix the cream with the flour to make a smooth ‘roux’ for thickening the soup. Pour the roux in the beans, stir well and bring to the boil, at which point the soup will have thickened. Add the fresh or frozen dill and cook over a low heat for another minute, stirring all the time. Pour in the vinegar, stir well and serve hot in soup bowls.

We in Slovakia often eat bean soup with a slice of bread on the side. The vinegar not only perks up the soup’s flavours, but also helps reduce the flatulence caused by the beans.

Creamy Bean Soup

Apart from being rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, beans also have plenty of soluble fibre, which is believed to help lower blood cholesterol. So why not give it a try and cook your own bean soup from scratch?

Summer Cucumber Soup

It feels much more comfortable now that the temperatures have gone down to 28ºC. The air has cooled and the nights are easier to sleep through, which gives you more energy for the day ahead.

My husband brought cucumbers from a friend’s garden a couple of days ago, so I have decided to cook something light and refreshing that will help us go through another hot (thankfully not boiling hot) day.

Here’s a soup I have created from what I could find at home:

Summer Cucumber Soup
Serves 4

4 small potatoes
1,2 l water
200 ml cream (12% fat content)
2 tablespoons flour for thickening
1 small cucumber
2 sprigs fresh dill (I used 4 teaspoons chopped frozen dill)
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and wash the potatoes. Dice them and put in a cooking pot. Pour in the water, add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done.

Wash and thinly slice the cucumber. Rinse and chop the dill.

Pour the cream in a mug, add the flour and stir well until a smooth mixture has formed. Add it to the potatoes, throw in the cucumber slices and the chopped dill. Stir well, season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. The soup will have thickened at this point. Turn down the heat and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the soup from burning.

Take away from the heat and serve either warm or cold in soup bowls.

Summer Cucumber Soup
Summer Cucumber Soup

Yellow Pea Soup with Paarki

It’s cold again with temperatures down at 14ºC, which is not that bad for May if it weren’t soaking wet too. It’s been pouring down since the morning and the skies are still heavy with bags of rain. Time for a bowl of warm, reassuring soup perhaps? Let’s cook it up!

Before we start checking for the ingredients, it’s important to say a few words about párky  (pronounced as paarki). It’s a Slovak name for thin pork sausages similar to frankfurters or chipolatas.  I have also eaten a British, Irish, Belgian or Swiss version of the sausage, so my guess is they will be available in some form all around the world.  After all, they are an indispensable ingredient for Hot Dogs, aren’t they? 

Slovaks like to eat their párky  for breakfast or as a light evening meal. They are quick and easy to prepare – all we do is to boil the sausages for about 5 minutes, and serve them hot with mustard and fresh bread.

As my son is a great fan of paarki, I often have some in the fridge. They come in different lengths ranging from mini-sausages through regular to long ones. The colour can vary from pale pink to dark brown depending on the meat and spices used. A cheesy variety was introduced a few years ago, and recently I have also seen paarki spiced up with bear garlic – a herb that’s becoming so popular in today’s healthy kitchen.

For my pea soup, I used long paarki bought at the fresh meat counter of a local supermarket. If you want to go vegetarian though, you can always leave the sausages out.

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Since I first made my Bear Garlic Soup, I’ve had a regular supply of bear garlic from my friend’s garden up in the hills. She says, however, this is probably the last batch, as the plant is supposed to start flowering any time now, which is when the leaves lose their punch and characteristic flavour.

The Internet tells me that dry yellow peas are commonly used in many world cuisines, so they should be easy to buy wherever you live. We in Slovakia are fortunate enough to grow and use our own peas which, along with other legumes like beans, chickpeas and lentils, have been a vital part of our cooking since time immemorial.

Yellow Pea Soup with Paarki
Serves 4

250 g dry yellow peas
4 large potatoes
2 l water
1 handful bear garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic
3 bay leaves
white pepper, ground
salt
pork lard or oil for frying
paarki or other thin sausages

Method:

Wash the dry peas and strain them on a sieve. Transfer to a large cooking pot and pour in the water. Stir well and bring to the boil, but be careful to watch the peas closely, as they will form quite a lot of foam when they come to the boil. Turn down the heat and take the foam off with a spoon. Stir well and continue cooking over a medium low heat for an hour.

Rinse the bear garlic leaves or peel the regular garlic. I cut the greens’ stems off and chopped them finely, as you can see in the slideshow at the top. Separating the leaves and the stems of the bear garlic not only gives two different flavours to your soup, but the two parts of the herb also need different cooking times.

Peel and wash the potatoes. When the peas are cooked and tender, add the potatoes to them and increase the heat. Stir well and watch until the soup comes to the boil again to prevent overflowing. Adjust the heat, then add the bay leaf and the chopped bear garlic stems or crushed garlic cloves. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice the sausages and fry them in a pan with a tablespoon of pork lard or oil until brown and crispy. As you see in the pictures below, I used the pork lard, which is sold in tubs of 500 g in my country. It has a different taste than oil, therefore it’s more preferable in some Slovak dishes.

Just before taking the soup off the heat, add the chopped bear garlic leaves or other spicy herbs. Stir well and serve immediately with or without bread.

Yellow Pea Soup with Paarki