Pickle Soup

I like dill pickles so much that each year as a child I would find a jar of Polskie Ogorkie weighing down the toe of my Christmas stocking.

Now I make litres and litres of lactofermented dill pickles every summer, picking the cukes while they are small and submerging them in a salt brine with fresh herbs and garlic.

Fido Jars make pickling effortless, and do a wonderful job of keeping pickles and sauerkraut crunchy, but we are now eating pickles from last summer…which means I can make soup from the pickles leftover from the summer before that.I suppose I will have to write up a recipe for sauerkraut soup as well.

Russia has a pickle soup, but it seems that Poland is the true homeland of Zupa Ogórkowa. Recipes abound online, but I used this one as a base, lifted flavours from a couple of other recipes, and modified to suit our fondness for creamy potato.

Dill Pickle Soup

  • 10 cups of chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup pickle juice
  • 150 gms. (1 ¼ cups) carrots, chopped small
  • 1000 gms. (8 cups) potatoes, cut to the size of game dice
  • 125 gms. (1 cup) celery, thinly sliced
  • 450 gms. (3 cups) dill pickles, coarsely grated
  • 3 tsp. grated garlic
  • pinch or two of dried dill weed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil about half of the potatoes in stock until they are soft, then purée with a stick blender.

Add everything except the milk, flour, egg and sour cream and cook another 15 or so minutes, until the potatoes are just soft.

Stir together the milk and flour, then add a bit of hot broth and stir again. Add to soup and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil and stir until thickened.

Remove soup from heat. Thoroughly beat egg and sour cream together, and slowly add to the soup.

Serve garnished with fresh herbs or a dollop of sour cream.

Makes 12 hearty servings

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So that is pickle soup, but I would like to just add a little bit of trivia down here…

We don’t often keep sour cream in our house, so Carmen quickly curdled some milk with lemon juice—one tablespoon of juice and four tablespoons of milk made a thick cream quick.This post tells you how to curdle several different products in a pinch—though they don’t seem entirely hip to the difference between curdling and culturing.

Using lemon juice or vinegar is a rush job of what would traditionally be called clabbering, or letting dairy be soured…by the same lactofermentation that pickles our cukes or sauerkraut, and for the same reasons—to preserve food without refrigeration.

Lactobacilli produce acid as they eat sugars, and this acid creates an inhospitable environment for pathogens. We can assist our friendly bacteria by creating an environment in which they thrive. Mostly we do this by keeping them a titch warmer than room temperature, and, in the case of fermenting vegetables, by also adding salt.

This acid creates the pucker of pickles and the sour of sour cream.

I first ran across clabbered milk when I was researching the safety of drinking raw milk, and it highlights one of the big compromises we tend to make in our “modern” industrialized society.

Industrialization brought the milk of dozens of dairies together in one big tank, so pathogens from one dairy could infect the whole load.The wonderful BBC series Full Steam Ahead talks about this in one of their episodes. Perhaps because the milk run trains were running in the cool of the morning, the conditions were not hospitable for the protective bacteria which would have soured the milk. So the pathogens took over, and lots of people got sick.

The obvious thing is to abandon industrialization—naturally—and scale back to a convivial life lived in harmony with the natural cycles.

I am sorry. I mean the obvious thing is to cook the milk and kill everything in it—Pasteurization. But Pasteurization kills the lactobacillus as well as the pathogens, so when your milk goes off now it is greenish and foul—not what you want to leaven your pancakes.

Raw milk doesn’t go off, it just transforms into other food products: sour cream, yogourt, buttermilk, and sour milk. You can still make sour milk products from Pasteurized milk, but you have to reinoculate the milk with lactobacillus.

Anyhow. Clabbering is a thing—and it turns out it is a Gaelic word. Read more about it and find the Anglo-Saxon term at Cook’s Info.


  1. […] Because Fido jars are such an effective airlock system, I have not used weights in almost ten years, which again is easier and cheaper. I always have cukes poking up out of the brine—like poking up a lot, they do not need to be submerged. My sauerkraut usually reabsorbs the brine and looks dry. No problem and no mold.And as I said, I have eaten excellent sauerkraut that was left for a year in our unheated back room, which is cool in the winter and too warm in the summer.I have left dill pickles for five years. They were too soft for good eating, but they tasted great and were not spoiled, so I used them to make pickle soup. […]

  2. Excellent. Can’t find anything to quibble with here. Would be embarrassed to even leave a comment except for this…

    Have noticed you clamoring for clabbering – and now that too is a thing. [and game dice sized potato chunks… nicely done]

    • I glad there are no major quibbles here—which is good because you need to save your strength.

      I had a major quibble with one of your comments on my Universal Income post… but it clearly snuck past your notifications as you have never responded to my searing opening gambit. I look forward to your thoughts.

      • Will go back to have a look at the UBI gambit. Would hate to miss a poke in the eye due to my own laziness.

        Indeed, quibbling can tax one’s faculties if done with verve and passion. And I sense a season of significant quiblishness may be upon us.

        Thinking of UBI, our should I say reflecting upon UBI thinkers… have you chanced upon Andrew Yang who is making a play for the Dem nomination for US President 2020? UBI is at the heart of his platform. Yes, I realize the world from your side of the border is far different and there should be no concern for the paltry matters which concern those slovenly southerners. But still… one person’s UBI (by an another name no less) might remind us of a rose. Thorns or sweet aromas??

        • “A season of significant quiblishness may be upon us.”

          It is like our very own, “Winter is coming.”

          I haven’t heard of Yang. Exciting the number of politicians that are starting to talk about it—exciting to see a change in the discourse even though I have critiques. Anyway, I will be happy to get some UBI and have a few years of respite from worrying about bills until our economic hologram takes the next step down.

          • Yang appears to me to making a transition in his life – for it would be a mite misleading to characterize him as a politician just now. But whether he has any political street cred just yet, one can easily suggest Mr Trump didn’t (still doesn’t?) have any cred as a politician.

            He has a blog you could follow, but I’m afraid he won’t be taking any contributions for his candidacy from a British Columbian (at least he shouldn’t – can just imagine the fallout once our press would get wind of that).

            Have been peeking into Bruce Alexander’s thinking. Not addicted to it just yet.

            Too droll?

            BTW, I’m guessing a Google search on the term ‘significant quiblishness’ should only return one result…

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