I have discovered a taste treat that sounds absolutely awful: Pickle Soup.
It's a Polish dish served at a local Polish restaurant here in Clearwater called Piramida. The reason a Polish restaurant is sporting an Egyptian name is due to the owner's eccentric obsession with the Egyptian culture. However, he sticks to good old Polish home cooking.
Piramida is an eclectic little restaurant, whose owner used to jump about outside dressed in a hotdog suit until he was repeatedly fined and ticketed by the City of Clearwater, which felt that his antics didn't enhance the resort town image they are trying to encourage.
But despite the odd reputation, Piramida's food is amazing.
They only make Pickle Soup when the cook is so inspired, so the chances of ever getting a taste of it are slim-to-none. This is in spite of the fact that customers are constantly requesting it, according to the waitresses there.
The first time I heard of it was when I walked into the restaurant and saw scrawled on the whiteboard "Pickle Soup Today". I asked about it hesitantly. After all, the concept of turning pickles into soup is far removed from how most Americans think.
I like to try new things, but Pickle Soup sounded about as appealing as Tomato Ice Cream. And yet, one year when I was a very little girl, my mom had a bumper crop of tomatoes.
What to do? What do do...?
Mom made tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato bread, tomato paste, pickled tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, and casting about for something different, she lit upon the concept of Tomato Ice Cream.
Mom experimented in the privacy of her own home. Although she never repeated her experiment, and I don't have the recipe, Dad still says it was surprisingly good.
So, I decided to try Pickle Soup.
The waitress brought out a vat of the stuff. I'm not kidding, here. It arrived in a small mixing bowl, brimming to the top with broth, with whole potatoes hiding below.
I decided that ordering the pierogies in addition to the soup had been a great mistake.
I ate as much of the soup as I could, omitting the potatoes which seemed to merely be an interruption. And I fell in love. It's a nice light, tangy soup that works well with almost any dish.
Since then, I've gone home to experiment with different versions of Pickle Soup, and I've even called Piramida. One of the waitresses was kind enough to share their recipe with me. And now I will share my final triumph with you.
It's traditionally eaten hot, but I made some for my parents and they ate it cold (like vicchyssoise) and pronounced it divine. Of course these are the people who invented Tomato Ice Cream.
8 C. clear chicken broth (low salt, low fat)
2/3 to a complete large jar of Claussen Garlic Dills or the freshest dill pickles you can find (to taste)
3 - 4 Tbl. butter
3 - 4 Tbl. flour
1/2 C. or more pickle juice (to taste)
1 tsp. or more fresh dill weed (to taste)
1/2 - 1 C. non-fat sour cream (to taste)
Warm broth in large pot to a simmer. Meanwhile, take the pickles and chop them into a paste in your food processor. Stir them into the broth, and add the pickle juice. You'll have to taste this periodically to see if you find it too weak or if it's reached the point that it seems to be just about right.
In a saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the flour and brown it. Gradually add some of the soup to the mixture until the mixture itself gets soupy and you can add it back into the soup itself. This will thicken the soup nicely without making it too thick. Cook it a little longer until it gets to a thicker consistency, then remove it.
Take 1/2 C. of the sour cream and stir some of the soup mixture into it to make it a little soupier (this keeps you from getting lumps of sour cream floating in the soup), and then add it to the soup itself. Taste. If it seems like it needs some more sour cream, add it.
Serves about 6.