the taste space

Pickle Soup

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on February 13, 2012

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.

After eating more than a few unadorned, I decided to branch out and make Pickle Soup that I had bookmarked from Love Soup eons ago.

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.

Pickle Soup

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.

Serves 8-10.

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24 Responses

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  1. Amy (Savory Moments) said, on February 13, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Very interesting. I’ve never heard of pickle soup before, but I love pickles so I imagine that it would be delicious.

  2. chefconnie said, on February 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I like this idea of pickles being the acid component in the soup. Your soup looks similar to a soup i made this weekend but I added a bunch of brussel sprouts in it also. The brussel sprouts were sweet with the soup. I will try yours next.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on February 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      I need to make more recipes with Brussels sprouts… in a soup like this sounds fabulous! :)

      • chefconnie said, on February 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

        It was surprising how sweet they were. I just quartered the little guys lengthwise and tossed them in. I was making a “kitchen sink soup”.

  3. Jane said, on February 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I’ve made pickle soup before too, and loved it, but it was slightly different than yours. I love pickles!! Last night, I was craving broccoli … at least it is a healthy food!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on February 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Ooh, what else did you have in your Pickle Soup? The traditional Polish Pickle Soup is more milk-based, but I liked the fresh flavours here… and trust me, I see no harm in broccoli cravings. Yum!

      • Jane said, on February 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

        Mine was more of a potato and fresh dill base, with lots of pickles and pickle juice! The pickle was a predominant flavor. I am going to try yours too though!

      • janet @ the taste space said, on February 13, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        It was probably similar. The original recipe had some potatoes in it, but I substituted celeriac (my newest obsession). You would probably really like the sauerkraut soup I alluded to in this post. Again, you use the sauerkraut and its juice to add a wonderful acidic profile. I can send you the recipe if you like! :)

      • Jane said, on February 13, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        That would be so awesome! I love sauerkraut! Thank you!

  4. sprint2thetable said, on February 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Ohhhh… pickles. Thank you – I’m now craving them. :)

    Funny you mention tahini. That’s been my craving lately. And -since I’m cleansing and can’t have it – I’d kill for a grilled cheese.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on February 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Cravings are the worst when you can’t eat the food…. but so weird when you CAN eat the food! Way to go on your detox, though. :)

  5. Ashley said, on February 13, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    So intrigued by this pickle soup! I love pickles. Well some pickles more than others. I was wondering if you’d have some other pickled vegetables in here like daikon mmm. Hm I can’t think of what I’ve been craving recently which is odd. But then I just ate lunch and am stuffed. :p

  6. leslie said, on February 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    hi there! i just discovered your blog not too long ago and i’ve been browsing through you archives. everything you make looks so delicious! i especially love the stews and curries that you make — they all look so healthy and hearty and comforting. this pickle soup looks so interesting! i don’t crave pickles much, but i may have to try this one. thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Joanne said, on February 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    I LOVE pickles AND pickle juice…and there is absolutely NEGATIVE chance that I’m pregnant. So there.

    I might not be able to stop eating this soup though…

  8. Jacqueline said, on February 15, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    I really like this Janet, it is so unusual. Very impressed. Thanks for submitting it :)

  9. Deb in Hawaii said, on February 19, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    I have had this soup tagged to make in Love Soup since I bought the book and I don’t know why I haven’t yet. It looks delicious. Thanks for inspiring me again to make it and for sending it to Souper Sundays. ;-)

  10. Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook said, on February 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Interesting soup with the pickles. It’s packed with so much goodness, it looks delicious!

  11. Corina said, on February 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I’ve never thought to make soup with pickles before but as I often add lemon juice to soup then, as you say, why not. I think it’s an idea I’m going to be experimenting with.

  12. […] Green Soup with Ginger – Pickle Soup – Finnish Double Pea Stew with Apples – Caramelized Cabbage Soup (recipe elsewhere) – Roasted […]

  13. […] No, really, there is no turning back. I know some people wonder why I can’t just eat something if it has meat broth, or snack on whole wheat bread, or just eat the darn white rice. There is a reason for my choices and I don’t want to compromise. Not all vegan food is healthy. […]

  14. Katie said, on February 3, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    The name threw me for a second, but I’m glad I kept reading. The soup sounds delicious. I love the idea of just a hint of pickle going through it.

  15. Katherine Natalia @ Green Thickies said, on February 8, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    Wow that sounds amazing. I can’t believe I’ve never even tried a dill pickle. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen them here in the UK but I’m going to keep my eyes open next time I’m at the shops. Thank you so much for sharing this week Healthy Vegan Fridays: http://www.greenthickies.com/healthy-vegan-fridays
    Have a great weekend and I hope to see you back again today, Katherine :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on February 8, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Hey Katherine, Dill pickles are my favourite. I think the sweeter pickles are more common in the UK? Totally not my thing. I’ve wanted to make my own pickles for a while but have yet to get around to it. :)


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