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Adventures in soup!
Several months ago, my Hungarian friend, Bea Solya, shared with me her Aunt Klari’s recipe for a Hungarian vegetable soup with ewe cheese balls. I was honored, to say the least! I had in my hands an authentic Hungarian recipe from someone’s family kitchen. So cool! (Read a little more about Bea’s story HERE.)
Well, I quickly discovered the challenges that can come from following someone else’s personal recipe – especially one from a country I’ve never been to. My first hurdle arose when I was simply reading the recipe – it called for parsley ROOT.
I had no idea parsley had an edible root! A bit of internet research revealed that some varieties of parsley are in fact grown for their roots, which look similar to parsnips. However, my friendly neighborhood grocer had never seen parsley root – so I was out of luck on that particular ingredient. My solution – finely chopped parsley stems.
I looked over the recipe again, and realized it didn’t call for any liquid. Soup – right? I sent Bea a quick message, “It’s liquid-y, right?” The answer was, yes, it should have liquid in it. I still have no idea what kind of liquid Aunt Klari uses, but I decided to go with a basic veggie stock. Great, next hurdle solved!
I decided on a couple more substitutions before even beginning. First, the recipe calls for Tarragon, which can be tricky to come by in my neck of the woods. Dried tarragon is available at better spice markets, but I just so happened to have some herbes de Provence on hand – which contains tarragon. Maybe not the closest substitution, but tasty nonetheless. And second, Klari calls for about 1 cup of 30% cream. I had to look this one up, too. 30% cream is equivalent to light whipping cream. I certainly could have used whipping cream, but I thought I would go a bit lighter, and substitute milk.
So, on to the final challenge – the ewe cheese balls.
Ewe cheese balls – 1, Julie – 0. 🙁
The recipe for the cheese balls was obviously created with very local ingredients in mind, and after several attempts at finding great substitutes, I decided to simply omit this portion of the soup… for now. I will win, ewe cheese balls. I WILL win! 😉
The ewe cheese balls deserve an entire post of their own – so one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will tackle these again, and, fingers crossed, create a successful batch. And when I do – I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!
OK! Finally time to make the soup!
The end result was hearty, rich, creamy, a bit tangy, and had a decidedly Eastern European flavor from the combination of milk, lemon, and herbs.
I hope Aunt Klari would be happy with the result. I thought it was delicious!
Here’s what you need –
- A generous glug of extra virgin olive oil or lump of butter
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 4 carrots cut into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 stick celery roughly chopped
- 1 bell pepper cut into small, bite size pieces (I used red bell pepper for the color and flavor, but feel free to use whatever kind of bell peppers you like)
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
- 8 ounces mushrooms sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tsp, or to taste, dried tarragon or herb blend containing tarragon such as herbes de Provence
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About 4 cups veggie stock, water, or a blend of the two
- 2 tsp flour
- A tiny bit of water for blending
- 1 cup milk or cream
- 1 lemon
- Celery leaves for garnish
- Dried or fresh dill for garnish
Here’s what you do –
- Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a soup pot or large, deep skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions to the skillet, and sauté until softened and slightly translucent.
- Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet, and continue sautéing for a couple of minutes until the veggies are just beginning to soften.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley, including the stems. Separate the stems and the leaves into two piles.
- When the veggies in the skillet have begun to soften, add the parsley stems, mushrooms, dried tarragon, and salt and pepper. Continue sautéing until the mushrooms are tender, but not browned.
- When the mushrooms are tender, add 4 cups veggie stock. (Or enough to generously cover the veggies. If you like a thinner soup, add more liquid.)
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Partially cover, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies reach your desired doneness.
- Meanwhile, mix the flour with just enough water to make a very thin, smooth paste.
- Add the milk to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.
- After the soup has finished simmering for 10 minutes, remove it from the heat, and slowly stir in the flour and milk mixture.
- Return the soup to the heat, and bring back up to a boil for about 30 seconds to bring everything together.
- Remove from the heat.
- Stir in most of the parsley leaves, reserving a few for garnish.
- Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice (start with about 1/4 lemon), then taste the soup for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, herbs, or lemon juice as desired.
- Dish it up into individual bowls, and garnish with the reserved parsley leaves, a few celery leaves, and a dusting of dill.
- Serve it with extra lemon wedges on the side.
The original recipe, minus the challenging ewe cheese balls…