Monday, January 4, 2010

Potato Soup (Zupa Ziemniaczana)

What do you do when you have a bunch of potatoes that you need to use before they go bad? Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to make soup.

If you ever have occasion to eat at the Kava House & Cafe in Swisher, IA, I highly recommend the Zupa (what they call their potato soup). However, in our quest to save-money-by-not-eating-out-so-much, I decided to see if I could find a recipe that came close. I pulled out an old Polish cookbook that my mom found second hand somewhere and, low and behold, there it was. After several iterations of making the recipe and lots of tweaking to suit my personal taste, I think I've come up with something that surpasses Kava House. My husband and kids all love it as well, which is all that is really important to me.


Zupa Ziemniaczana

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
2 celery stalks, coarsely diced
1 large leek, coarsely diced
3 qts of meat broth (see separate recipe or use 1-1/2 qts water & 2 cups broth or bouillon)
2 tbs butter
4 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup skim milk
2 tsp parsley
1 or 2 lbs of bulk sausage (I use venison sausage but pork works too)

Place potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks and parsley in a stock pot. Add water and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for an hour. Once vegetables are tender, mash with a potato masher a few times just to break the potato chunks up a little finer (we are not going for the complete mashed potato thing here...just break things up a bit to improve the texture). Reduce heat and simmer for at least another 1/2 hour.

In 1/4 cup milk dissolve the flour and whisk out the lumps. Mixture will be uniform and frothy. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in salt and pepper. Slowly add milk/flour mixture while stirring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles. Slowly add remaining milk while stirring. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (or it will burn). Remove from heat and pour into broth vegetable mixture. Simmer over low heat stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent scorching on the bottom for at least another 30 minutes.

In a skillet, cook sausage completely through. Drain and discard the fat (if any). Add cooked sausage to the stock pot.. Simmer for at least 10 more minutes, stirring once. Serve hot.


The real key to this being an awesome soup as opposed to simply a good soup, is in how you make the broth. But I am going to save that for a different post because it is a stand alone recipe/process. [Please see the 02/25/2010 posting for Homemade Meat Broth.]

This zupa recipe freezes very well so you don't have to try and finish all of this before it goes bad. I serve it with crackers (my boys just have to have crackers) as a stand alone meal. I am still tweaking this recipe a bit every time I make it. So if I come up with a variant that works even better, I will edit this posting.

Now just to cover my butt, in case I haven't altered the original recipe enough to avoid plagerism charges, here is the bibliography info for the Polish cookbook: Marianna Olszewska Heberle. Polish Cooking. HPBooks, Inc., Tucson, AR, 1985. Page31.

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