Many years ago, I worked in the office for the outlet store division of a well-known shirt and clothing manufacturer. The staff often brought our lunch to work and inevitably wound up clustered together in the back room discussing the current day’s collection of dishes from brown bags and plastic containers.
One of the store employees really did not like to cook. She took full advantage of fast food and convenience items from the grocery store; as such, many of her lunches revolved around canned items, quite often, canned soup.
When she opened her insulated Thermos one day, she had a soup that she offered to share that she said was something her grandmother made when she was a girl, but she had put her own spin on it by using canned cream of potato soup and canned green beans.
I accepted her offer of a taste. There was a noticeable, pleasant, acidic touch which she explained was vinegar. I got her “recipe” and made it at home a couple times as a quick supper. My family enjoyed it but, over the years, I dropped it from my repertoire in favor of “from-scratch” cooking and basically forgot about it.
It was only years later while researching foods and developing my blog did I realize my co-workers “quickie” soup from processed foods was based on Slovak Green Bean Soup or Polievka zo Zelenej Fazule.
As with many Eastern European soups, it is based on a combination of a dairy product with vinegar — in this case, sour cream — accompanied by fresh dill.
It is not a complicated or time-consuming recipe to put together, so skip the highly processed, canned foods so near and dear to my co-worker so many years ago and make this soup from fresh ingredients.
If you cannot get fresh green beans, frozen may be substituted. Frozen vegetables are a good alternative to fresh when unavailable and some may actually be better than the off-season or picked immature and shipped from far-and-wide fresh vegetables sold in many supermarkets.
Slovak Green Bean Soup (Polievka zo Zelenej Fazule)Course: SoupsCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
1 pound fresh string (green) beans, cleaned and cut in bite-size lengths (about 1 inch long)
8 cups ham, chicken, or vegetable broth
2 all-purpose medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup white distilled or cider vinegar
Fresh dill to taste, chopped
OPTIONAL: 3 or 4 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled for garnish
- Cook beans and cubed potatoes with garlic in broth in large pot until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saute pan, add the onions and cook until soft, but not browned. Set aside.
- Place flour in a mixing bowl and take some of the 2 cups milk and whisk it with the flour to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk and sour cream until smooth. Set aside.
- When beans and potatoes are tender, add the onions and butter to the pot with the soup. Temper the sour cream mixture slowly by whisking in a few ladles of the hot soup to it , then stir in the sour cream mixture into the hot soup. Simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently, but do not boil. Remove from heat, stir in the vinegar.
- Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and black pepper. If you want the soup thinner, add more milk to bring it to the consistency you desire. Add dill to taste.
- Serve topped with crumbled bacon when served, if desired.
- Recipe adapted from Slovak Catholic Sokol Cookbook