You’d think something was up. While I have long given up cheesy bliss, meat-laden meals and sweet desserts*, I have been having a lot of random food cravings. Cabbage. Tahini. And now pickles. When I told Rob I drank the pickle juice after I ate the last pickle, he was concerned. That’s what pregnant people do! No worries on that front. :P But what’s up with the cravings?
*Full disclosure: December was filled with chocolate cravings (gosh, those cookies were so good!). I also learned that Clif and Luna bars are deadly addictive. They may be vegan, but they are junk. I have been cut-off.
In any case, I don’t feel that guilty obliging my pickle cravings. Yes, they can be a bit salty, but they can be so satisfying with their crunch and vinegary bite.
Truly, pickle soup is a misnomer. Yes, there are pickles in it but it is not a dominant flavour. Just like vinegar and lemon juice are added to enhance the balance of a soup’s flavour, pickles do the exact same thing here. They add that salty and acidic touch.
So if this isn’t a pickle soup, it is a soup filled to the brim with veggies! It has an Eastern European flavour profile with dill and cabbage but it also has a hint of thyme. The veggies are bountiful, making this a huge pot of soup – leek, delicate oyster mushrooms, celeriac, carrot, turnip, Swiss chard, cabbage, red bell pepper – as well as barley.
While the flavours don’t scream out in any sense, they mingle well together. The pickles add that extra dimension that makes you think about the soup. Use dill pickles, Polish if possible, for the nice tang. Even pickle haters could enjoy the soup since the pickles are hidden amongst the plentiful veggies.
Even though I added in even more veggies than the original recipe, substituting a few ingredients as well (celeriac, baby!), I didn’t tire of this soup. I usually shun recipes that feed 8 people, but not this time. I relished in it. Sometimes I ate this soup twice a day!
Thankfully I think my pickle cravings subsided after a round of the soup.
What have you been craving recently?
This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring fresh herbs.
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed well
1 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces oyster mushrooms (or portobello, cremini, or other brown mushrooms), chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
1 lb celeriac, chopped
1 cup diced carrots (1-2 carrots)
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves coarsely chopped
12 oz chopped green cabbage
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and diced (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh dill
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup finely diced dill pickles, plus more to taste (bonus if they are Polish pickles!)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Rinse the barley, put it in a large soup pot with 8 cups (2 liters) water and 1 teaspoon salt, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped onion. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the chopped leeks and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the onion and leeks are soft and beginning to color. Remove from skillet and set aside.
3. In the same skillet, add additional oil (only if needed) and stir the garlic. Heat it over high heat for about a minute. Add the mushrooms, a dash of salt, and thyme and sauté the mushrooms until their excess liquid cooks away and they are sizzling, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the chopped celeriac, carrots, celery, and turnip to the barley, along with another half a teaspoon of salt. You can add a cup or two of water if it is needed to keep everything submerged. Bring the liquid back to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 more minutes.
5. While the root vegetables are cooking, wash the chard, remove the tough stems, and chop the leaves coarsely and thinly slice the stems. Shred the wedge of cabbage finely (use a mandoline if possible, or just thinly slice). Add the sautéed onion and leeks and the sautéed mushrooms to the soup, deglazing the pans with a bit of water. Stir in the chard, cabbage, bell pepper, dill, and vegetable broth. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the finely diced pickles and simmer for 10 minutes more.
6. Taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning with more salt and some freshly ground pepper. The pickles become milder over time, releasing their acidity into the soup as they cook; your soup will have a more subtle flavor after it simmers a little longer.