Recreating a Deli Classic: Creamy Cucumber & Dill Pickle Soup


On the other end of the city, near my family doctor’s office, I have a favourite cafe. It’s called Bread & Roses. I tend to book my check-ups before the lunch hour so that I can stop there to eat [the turkey & cranberry-sauce sandwich is fabola!], and to take home dinner for the family: a dozen or so of their soft and chunky chocolate chip cookies, a fresh-baked loaf of seed-filled bread, and, if I’m lucky enough, if it happens to be on the menu that day, an extra-large container of their creamy cucumber soup. That stuff is liquid gold: thinly sliced cukes, potato chunks, and dill fronds floating in a slightly milky [think skim, not heavy cream] broth.

Lately, I’ve been trying to reproduce this soup at home. I’ve finally come up with a contender! The recipe below is a slightly chunkier version of our favourite deli classic. [I’m lazy when it comes to slicing cukes and pickles down to perfect frite-sized match-sticks]. It’s a combination of a polish pickle soup and a creamy cucumber soup – and it fills our heavy oval dutch oven to the brim. Of course, the recipe can easily be halved. You could even leave out the pickles and most of the pickle juice and just do “cucumber” soup as a half recipe, or leave out the fresh cukes and just do “pickle” soup as a half recipe. Also, if you have dairy issues, just substitute olive oil for the butter at the outset and leave out the sour cream/flour mixture entirely. The soup tastes heavenly with or without the creamy edge!

Now, get out the big spoons! You’re in for a treat!

Creamy Cucumber & Dill Pickle Soup

makes enough to fill a generously-sized dutch oven
Author: Roseanne Carrara, The Lunchbox Season

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 x-large onion sliced thin
  • 1 tbs chopped garlic
  • 2 english cucumbers sliced in thin strips [think long matchstick frites, remove the seeds if you like]
  • 1 medium-sized carrot sliced in even thinner match-sticks [Optional]
  • 7.5 cups [2 900-ml containers] low or no salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 10-14 small or 4-6 large garlic dill pickles sliced in long, thin strips. [I used a 1 L jar of "no name" whole dill pickles - reserving 7 or 8 of these small pickles for garnishes/eating]
  • 1.5 c strained liquid from the pickle jar [if your pickles are homemade or are quite cidery or salty consider using only .5 to 1 c total pickle liquid]
  • 3 x-large baking potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 OR 3 OR 4 tbs flour
  • 1 OR 1.5 OR 2 c non-fat sour cream
  • up to about .5 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt the butter on medium low heat.
  • Saute the sliced onions for 7-8 minutes.
  • Add garlic and sliced cucumbers [and optional sliced carrot] and saute for 5-7 minutes longer.
  • Add sliced pickles, about half of the pickle juice [.75 c], all of the broth, and the cubed potatoes, raising the heat to medium high.
  • Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Then, lower the heat to medium-low and boil for 25-30 minutes, just until the potatoes are cooked.
  • If the soup is not tart or "pickle-tasting" enough, add as much of the remaining half of your pickle juice [ up to .75 c] as you like and bring the soup back to a boil.
  • You can stop here, garnishing the soup with fresh pepper and chopped dill fronds to your liking.
  • OR
  • In a separate, heat-proof mixing bowl, blend the flour and sour cream.
  • [Use one of the three ratios listed in the ingredients above. The more flour/sour cream you wish to add, the thicker and creamier the soup will be.]
  • Remove about 1 cup of the soup broth from the soup pot.
  • Whisking the flour and sour cream mixture continually, add the hot broth by the tablespoon until you have added a total of 1 cup of broth to your sour cream mixture.
  • Whisking the soup continually, gradually pour the flour-sour-cream-broth mixture back into the soup.
  • Simmer the soup for an additional 5-10 minutes until it has thickened slightly.
  • Add chopped fresh dill fronds and freshly ground pepper to your liking and stir [or have guests do this individually].
  • Ladle the soup into bowls or mugs.
  • Garnish with additional dill fronds and a few fresh pickle slices if so desired.
  • Enjoy!

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