In the Slovak, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Christian tradition, sour mushroom soup (machanka or macanka) is a meatless soup served for Christmas Eve Wigilia supper and any time fasting is required, like Advent and Lent. (Wigilia is derived from Latin “vigil” that means wakefulness.)
The Wigilia is one of most important celebrations of the year, both in the old country and here in The Coal Region where many people embrace Christmas Eve traditions celebrated for generations in their families.
Wigilia is a meatless meal, no doubt the result of a long-time Church mandate that a strict fast and abstinence be observed on this day before Christmas.
Although this meal is reserved for the closest family, it’s customary to set an extra plate and seat for an unexpected guest, or even a vagrant. An interesting custom comes with the number of guests. In most regions of Poland it was believed that an odd number of people by the Wigilia table would bring a bad luck during the following year.
By tradition, the Wigilia should be composed of twelve dishes, all prepared out of various kinds of grains, vegetables and fish, most popular being herring and carp. Twelve is said to represent the twelve months of the year and also the twelve apostles.
Items that would normally be included in a traditional Wigilia menu include a mushroom soup, boiled potatoes (kartofle), pickled herring (sledzie), fried fish, pierogi, beans and sauerkraut (groch i kapusta), a dried fruit compote, babka, platek, assorted pastries, nuts and candies.
Each dish should be at least tasted a bit in order to avoid bad luck in one of the upcoming months. The dishes are prepared out of symbolic products and many of them are served only during that one special evening of the year.
Source: Lamus Dworski
This sour mushroom soup is best made with dried mushrooms that can be obtained at many grocery stores. The mushrooms must be reconstituted by soaking several hours or overnight, so plan accordingly when making this soup.
Sour Mushroom Soup (Slovak Machanka)Course: SoupsCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup sauerkraut juice
1 small onion, chopped
1 small onion, diced (to be fried and added at the end)
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 cups water
1 potato, peeled and cubed small
- Soak dried mushrooms in water overnight. Drain water from mushrooms taking care not to get any sediment that might have gathered in the bottom of the bowl. Roughly chop mushrooms.
- To a pot add the 4 cups water, mushrooms, sauerkraut juice and the one chopped onion. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 2 to 3 hours. Add potato and simmer until potato is tender.
- In a fry pan, add 2 Tablespoons oil and flour and cook until browned (dark roux). Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add about a cup of soup slowly to the browned flour, whisking constantly to make a thin zaprashka (gravy). Add this back into the soup, stirring constantly.
- Add 1 Tablespoon oil to small fry pan and saute the diced onion until dark golden brown and soft. Set aside.
- Simmer soup 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fried onions. Serve.
- Recipe adapted from Panis’ Cookbook