chłodnik – cold beet soup

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Oh you’ve never had a cold pink soup before?  Pretty awesome right?  It looks exotic but it is basically beets, radishes and cucumbers with some kefir and buttermilk and lots of herbs.   Perfect for a hot day.

And it’s been hot.  So hot that I don’t want to cook.  I don’t want to turn the oven on and I definitely don’t want to carry two heavy bags of groceries home from my train stop or even the closest grocery store.  But I honestly don’t mind the heat, maybe even so much so that I have developed an allergy to the cold.  I am totally serious it is a thing, and I have it!  I get hives when I’m in cold water and when my skin is exposed to cold air for too long.  Yes I think there is something secretly wrong with me, but I am trying to not overthink it and be positive and drink lots of nettle tea and other weird healthy concoctions.  My body is probably telling me to move to the Mediterranean, or Hawaii or maybe just California?  Sometimes I really think your body knows better than your brain, especially because it’s basically what I do for a living, trust the body.

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So this is a Polish, among other countries, soup.  Chłodnik basically means something cold, in this case a soup, and it seems to always refer to this type of soup.  The ch is pronounced like an h and the ł sounds like a w, and everything else sounds like it should, so good luck saying it.  Gevork, my boyfriend, speaks Russian and he has so much trouble pronouncing the chł combination, which we practice with the word boy: chłopiec.  This chłodnik also includes botwinka (w sounds like a v), which is the greens of the young beets.  Cold soup doesn’t seem to be a popular choice in America, and it is a shame.  This soup is full of summer goodness.  There are many variations of how to make it, it’s kind-of like all soups where you can really play around with it once you’ve made it once.  I am leaving a simple classic variation here but feel free to get inspired.

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Chłodnik

4 small beets with leaves

1 lemon – or beet kvas – or both (I used some kvas I made to give it a tang)

handful of radishes (about 6)

handful of small cucumbers (about 4)

2 cups kefir

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 tbsp salt

pepper

freshly chopped parsley, dull and chives

hard boiled eggs, quartered

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-peel and chop the beets into small diced cubes.  chop the leaves finely as well. place beets and leaves into a large pot and cover with water and juice of one lemon and/or some beet kvas.  boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes just until beets are cooked but the color stays.

-meanwhile clean the radishes and cucumbers and cut off the ends.  Then juilenne them into thin little matchsticks.  place them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  pour the kefir and buttermilk on top those vegetables and stir well.  toss in the herbs and stir well.  refrigerate if needed.

-once the beets are cooked let them cool at room temperature and then place in the fridge for a bit to cool more.

-pour the kefir mixture into the beets and mix well.  the color should look beautiful now!  let the whole thing cool, season more if needed and serve with hard boiled eggs.

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smacznego!

 

sorrel soup

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I just got back from a lovely couple of days in Chicago visiting my parents.  It wasn’t the Bahamas or Iceland but it felt so nice nonetheless.  Anytime we get away from our normal routine it is so refreshing.  I used to come visit and get very anxious to get back to my life in New York and would feel that Chicago was so boring and lame.  But I just welcome it so much now, cuz I’m pretty lame and Chicago is actually pretty cool.  I do love the mid-west, I know mountains and oceans are better but the midwest is special, there is something in the air that floats around and makes you feel ok about yourself.

We celebrated Easter and it was lovely.  Saturday we got our baskets blessed and I made a traditional Polish Easter dessert called mazurek, we died hard boiled eggs and had an array of sandwiches and babkas and cheesecake.  I think Easter is my favorite holiday and I never come to Chicago for it and I’m so glad I did this year.  We also went to the botanical garden and I got some glamour shots of how beautiful nature is!  I wish I was as beautiful as a flower!

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My mother’s garden is also starting to slowly show signs of life.  The nettle and sorrel are the strongest and when I saw the sorrel I got so excited to make sorrel soup!  I tried to make it last year in the summer and it is so hard to find sorrel!  I found some at the farmers market but it would be just small little bundles for a bit too much money for me and only for part of the season.  So I made this great soup yesterday.  It is simple farm food, sorrel is easily found in Europe and a popular ingredient for soup and sauces.  If you can find it here get it and enjoy it, or if you have a garden plant some!  It is a sturdy plant.

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Sorrel Soup

1 small onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp butter

3-4 small potatoes, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable broth

salt and pepper

1/2 pound or about 6 cups sorrel, chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp flour

hard boiled eggs, cut into 4ths

parsley or dill for garnish

-heat a stock pot to medium and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the onion and garlic until a bit soft.  add the potato with salt and pepper and cook about 1 minute.  add the broth and bring to a boil.  turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked.

-meanwhile heat a skillet to medium and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the sorrel until wilted, it will turn a muddy green.  turn off heat and add the sorrel to the soup.  continue simmering.

– mix the sour cream with flour in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup of broth to the mixture slowly to blend.  add it back to the soup (this helps break the sour cream a bit so it’s not chunky).  simmer a bit, make sure potatoes are cooked.

-add pieces of hard boiled egg into the soup and top with herbs if desired.  season to taste.

-this can also be eaten cold!

-juliaradish