Friday, 10 June 2016

Dill Soup

It's Polski Piątek, so let's talk about soup.

The Poles are justifiably proud of their soups which are varied, unusual and delicious. In the summers they sip cold fruit soups, and in the winters they eat hot meat-and-veg ones. Catholic Poles also have strictly vegetarian soups for Fridays as the Friday abstinence from meat was never lifted in Poland. Traditionally Polish Christmas Eve is a day of total fasting until the first star appears in the sky. The Poles break this fast by sharing specially prepared wafers made of unconsecrated host-bread, and then they eat delicious vegetarian beet soup with tiny mushroom-stuffed dumplings.

A good Polish hot soup for spring is called koperkowa (pronounced kop-err-KO-fa, i.e. I hope so).  Its most important ingredient is fresh dill, and my recipe is based on this one at You will notice that the English of the recipe is rather idiosyncratic, so there was some guesswork involved on my part.

The recipe calls for meat-on-the-bone, but I have always substituted good quality prepared vegetable broth, to which I add the Polish soup vegetables (włoszczyzna).  Also I never make the string dumplings, opting for the boiled eggs instead.  All this ensures that the soup can be eaten on Fridays and by vegetarians and the gluten-intolerant. It is pointless to serve this soup to a vegan, even by substituting dumplings for the eggs, for thick Polish sour cream is a necessary ingredient.

You don't need to peel anything because the veggies are going to be chucked in the bin.


2 litres of good quality veggie stock, made up and brought to boil
onion, roughly chopped
carrot, roughly chopped
celery stick, roughly chopped
leek, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped
parsnip (optional), roughly chopped
handful of parsley
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
200 mL Polish sour cream for soup, or the thickest sour cream you can find.
big bunch dill, chopped and divided in half
hard boiled egg per person (plus extra for seconds)

1. Chuck all veg except the dill into the boiling veggie stock and simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Strain the soup into another pot and throw out the cooked vegetables. (Alternatively you could mash them and nuke them in the morning for a hot veggie porridge, I suppose. But take out the bay leaf first.)
3. Fry half the dill dry in a hot frying pan for 2 minutes, not letting it burn. (You can use a bit of butter, but I like it better without.)
4. Throw fried dill into soup.
5. Pour a quarter cup or so of soup into the sour cream and mix it up. Then pour the mix into the soup and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. (There may be a lot of salt in your stock already, so do taste first.) Heat up soup again until it is piping hot but not boiling.
6. Just before serving, add the raw chopped dill and stir.
7. Peel hard boiled eggs, cut each in half, and put two halves in a bowl before ladling soup over.

Serve with delicious rye bread (if guests can take the gluten), and refrigerate the leftovers, if any. Still good to eat two days later.


  1. How big is a bunch of dill?

  2. Well, say two handfuls. I just use one packet of fresh dill as packaged by Tesco.

    1. Okay. I was at the farmers market and there were huge bunches of dill that looked lovely. I passed because I couldn't think of a use for so much dill.

    2. Yum! Dill muffins! Dill in omlettes. Double the dill in my recipe? (The original recipe suggests only a big bunch.) It's a fresh herb, so until with dry, I don't see how you could go wrong adding more.