If there is one thing (or maybe two or three things) you should about the Czech Republic it is that we brew the best beer in the world, we love mushroom picking and we are definitely a country of soups. Growing up there as a kid I would hear on any occasion that ‘Soup is good for your growth and if you don’t eat it you’ll stay the size of a smurf’
So we eat soups. Soup on every festive menu, soup as the first course of your daily lunch and a soup as a main dish. We eat soups a lot. I am a soup lover and if there is a one dish I could eat till the rest of my days and don’t get sick of it will most likely be a soup!
There is only one rule you need to follow when preparing a true Czech soup: Always serve the soup boiling HOT. My grandfather would serve us soup while it was still piping hot. How anyone could eat a soup in any other way is beyond me.
Kulajda is one of the traditional Czech soups that is still cooked regularly at home. Here is my version of one of Grandma’s good old classics.
- 4 potatoes (peeled and chopped into small cubes)
- 4-6 cups water (a little more than enough to cover the potatoes in a pot)
- ½ cube of beef or vegetable stock ( I use jelly stock from Knorr)
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 table spoons of flour
- 1 cup (300mls) of sour cream
- 3 – 4 eggs ( 3 boiled, 1 whisk into the soup right at the end)
- 3 tablespoons vinegar (regular white)
- handful of chopped fresh or soaked dried mushrooms
- large handful of chopped fresh dill
- 1-2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- salt and ground pepper to taste
I start with dried mushrooms. A mixture of forest mushrooms (porcini mushrooms) provides the best and very intensive taste. fresh mushrooms will be also deliscious and more preferable but it all depends on a season and available variety.
Chop mushrooms roughly and set aside. Rinse the chopped and peeled potatoes and cover with just a little more water than needed. Add chopped mushrooms, bay leaves, all spice, salt, peppercorns and caraway seeds. Bring the soup to boil and cook for 20 minutes until potatoes get soft.
In the meantime mix flour, sour cream and few tablespoons of hot soup liquid together, whisk properly to create a smooth paste/mixture. Then just to be safe and to avoid lumps pour this mixture through sieve into the pot.
Bring to a simmer until the soup thickens and stir occasionally. When the soup reduces by a 1/3, reduce the heat, add chopped dill and the vinegar (2-4 tablespoons based on your preference – always taste before adding more).
This is where you can get a little fancy if you’re serving this right away. Break open the eggs and allow them to cook in the soup (like poached eggs) for about 3 minutes until soft boiled. Or you can make it the way I’ve always made it and once you add the eggs swirl through them with a fork so that you have broken chunks of eggs in the soup and when serve you can add with two halves of boiled egg.
Little Tip: You can add dill into the soup at any point of cooking but generally speaking later you add it stronger and more intense taste you get. If you want to enhance flavour of your soup (or you feel that your soup is missing the depth) add half a cube of beef stock or vegetable stock – I use jelly stock from Knorr.
Bon Appetite! Dobrou Chut!