As we have mentioned many times, one of our multiple mission here is to viciously fight those darn false myths about Polish cuisine. Yes, we do admit that there are some traditional dishes which are not extremely healthy yet please do remember that over centuries of its stormy history, the nation has been exposed to extremely harsh and Spartan environment. This situation is reflected in several kinds of foods, which are either simple and loaded with nutrients, such as Tatar beef, White Cheese and Zhur, or perhaps somewhat time consuming when being prepared, but virtually non-perishable such as Bigos (Hunter’s Stew), Kiełbasa (pron. Kiew-bossa) or bryndza (salted mountain quarg cheese). However, one must realize that in our strange world basically everything that contains concentrated nutrients, bears a label “no good for you”.
Hey, people, get up from your couches, turn your idiot boxes off and live the way our ancestors used to live. Then, you may be allowed to have their kind of delicious food which won’t affect your health. Otherwise, you will have to continue having those tasteless empty substances called Food of Twenty First Century.
Now, to sharpen your appetite, here are some examples of light fresh soups, usually made in the summer time.
Lemon soup is prepared with veal, lean beef or chicken wings. Yes, lemon soup is included in the Polish cuisine, even though citruses are typical to a Mediterranean region rather than for Northern climate (where Poland is located – FYI). Half-pound of meat is placed into seven cups of cold water with a pinch of salt and one bay leaf. The pot is slowly brought to boil and cooked for 30 minutes. Then, vegetables are added: a medium-sized carrot, parsley root, a piece of celery root, one stalk of leek, one small onion and green parsley. When vegetables are tender, the soup is passed through a strainer or food processor. Two egg yolks are now beaten well with a cup of sour cream and juice of one lemon and added to the pot. The pot is now simmered without boiling for one minute.
This soup is served with broken or whole barley (kasha), cooked the following way: First, a tablespoon of fresh butter, preferably unsalted, is melted in a pot and two ounces of kasha is lightly fried in. It takes no more than 3 minutes on medium low heat. Then, four fluid ounces of cold water with a pinch of salt is poured in and brought to boil. Now we mix well the contents of the pot, cover it, wrap in a towel, then in folded blanket, cover with another blanket and wait for at least 40 minutes. Do not worry about burning or overcooking. Uncover the pot and stir the cooked kasha with a fork. Do you smell this wonderful aroma? Rice can be cooked using the same method.
What to serve when your guests stayed overnight and woke up with a terrible hangover? (remember not to drink and drive) Give them a glass of cold tomato juice and meantime make the hangover soup (kacówa – pron. cuts – oova).
Get 2/3 oz of dried Polish or Chinese mushrooms and soak in two pints of warm water for 2 hours (we may want to start preparing this soup the night before). Bring to boil in the very same water, add one onion, 4 grains of allspice, 4 grains of whole black pepper and simmer until soft and aromatic. When using less expensive Chinese mushrooms, be aware that they smell very ugly during initial stage of cooking, yet the stink quickly dissipates. Fish the mushroom out, chop finely and return to the soup. Add one pint of sour kraut juice. Use only genuine Polish sour kraut juice, from a cabbage kept in a wooden barrel. So-called sour kraut sold in plastic bags or jars, contains vinegar and acidulants other than naturally fermented lactic acid, so be careful.
One tablespoon of flour is mixed with water to consistency of cream, 4 tablespoons of sour cream are added to flour and stirred into the soup. Now the soup is slowly simmered for a while and our hangover soup is ready. Tastes great with egg noodles, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
What to do if your guests brought in a six-pack of a popular American beer such as Michelob or Miller? Of course, we have a real beer for them in our fridge yet of course we will not throw away a product proudly crafted in this wonderful country, especially because it is euphemistically called „beer”! Polish soup made of American beer will be an interesting addition to the evening snack.
Heat up three cans of beer almost to boil (intensive foaming!), add a piece of cinnamon, a little nutmeg and several cloves. Beat well four egg yolks with almost one cup of sugar and add to beer. Now add remaining three cans of beer, a shot glass of rum or cognac, mix and serve immediately, pouring into soup bowls with some white cheese (Quarg or solid Farmer’s Cheese) cut into 1.4 inch dice.
Now, my dear Anglosaxon chefs, here is Garus, the strangest soup you may have ever heard of! A plum soup with potatoes, very popular in the mid-southern part of Poland. Potatoes may be served as a side dish or just dumped into the soup bowl.
A pound and half of plums or similar fruits (peaches, nectarines, etc), are cleaned, pitted and very slowly cooked with 2 pints of water and 5 –6 oz of sugar for 30 minutes. A little pinch of cinnamon can be added but it is not absolutely necessary. Soup is thickened with sour cream. Potatoes are cooked the ordinary way, may be mashed or whole.
Try the above recipes on your barbecue party and finally feel free to be proud of your inheritance because no one can cook like Polish people.
And remember that Pierogi don’t come from Poland! It is purely Russian food, adapted by the Poles for its organoleptic and nutritional values.