Passing on my mother’s traditional potato soup recipe
I have written before that my son loves soup, but did I mention that he REALLY loves his grandma’s soup (he calls it “Babcia’s zupa”)? Since his grandma’s soup is one of the things that he will undoubtedly eat at any time, I thought that I should learn how to make that recipe.
What started off as a simple request for a cooking lesson — our “soup session” — turned into a complete tutorial. We decided to make several soups, and extended an invite to several other friends and family. We made stock for hours, building soup bases of different kinds, chopping this, a bit of that. And the whole time I was taking feverish notes to ensure that these soups were able to be duplicated — so the tradition could live on.
After all was said and done, we ended up with five soups, due to the fact that we had a limited number of burners. The soups were tomato, barley, potato (my personal favourite), pea and pickle (yes, pickle soup — it’s a Polish thing, I am told). Since we had so many soups on hand, it seemed like a no-brainer to have a big dinner party to help us critique how we did, and of course help us consume all these soups. We fed 15 people in all, and some even made the sacrifice of eating five bowls of soup. Despite all the sampling and mouths to feed, I still went home with 10 jars of soup. It was perfect.
It was a great learning experience, and seemed like a lot of work at the time, but everyone walked away with a full stomach, happy to have had a bit of homemade food that reminded everyone of their roots. Now that I think about it, I suppose this is how family recipes get handed down from one generation to another. Now go, create, and enjoy Babcia’s zupa.
grandma’s potato soup
8 cups cold water
1/2 lb pork, neck or loin
2 large carrots, whole
1/2 leek, whole
1/4 celery root, peeled and whole
1 large parsnip, whole
Salt and pepper
4 potatoes, diced
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
4 slices of rye bread, cubed
In a large pot, add water, pork, carrots, leek, celery root and parsnip along with 2 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
After 30 minutes, add diced potatoes and continue simmering.
After an additional 30 minutes, remove meat and blend remaining soup till smooth.
Add parsley and return to low heat. If soup is too thick, add water to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add butter. When melted, add cubed rye bread. Toast in the pan for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Stir frequently. Croutons should be added to soup individually in the last moment before consuming.
Match: A soup this flavourful needs something subtle. So open a bottle of Northern Italian white.