In Romania a pig is slaughtered at Christmas and used in all manner of dishes including a tripe soup called ciorba de burta which is eaten on new years day (although you can get it at any restaurant at any time of the year). Some of the pork is also cured in salt and brought out for Easter where it is served with horseradish, hardboiled eggs and big chunks of bread. It is Cosmin's favourite time of the year and last week the Easter package from his parents was delivered complete with two big tubs of grated horseradish and a cut of salted pork larger than his head. Cosmin ate nothing but this one dish for two days straight and beat his own record for volume and intensity of farts in any one 24 hour period.
With our "visit" to Poland in mind, Cosmin asked his Polish colleague Kris if he could recommend something we should try. Barszcz bialy was high up on his list and when I had a look at what it was online I knew it would be high up on Cosmin's list too, because this Polish Easter dish is basically the soup version of his favourite meal in the entire world. Incidentally, soup (any soup), is Cosmin's second favourite meal in the world.
It is no coincidence. Both Poland and Romania are highly religious, and whilst they're followers of different branches of Christianity, (over 87% of Poles are Catholic and 81% of Romanians are Orthodox) much of the symbolism is shared.
Have you ever grated a horseradish? No? Have you ever sliced an onion? Yes, well take the eyewatering you get from slicing an onion and multiply it by ten. Horseradish is oft found on Eastern European tables at Easter because the tears that follow are for the passion of Christ. Eggs are symbolic because they represent Jesus' resurrection, and bread is the body of Christ. Pork is a little unclear however, some sources claim the eating of a meat forbidden by many other religions symbolises Christian identity.
If you're lucky enough to have access to a Polish deli, what are you waiting for, go and grab the ingredients you need. If not you could try online UK, USA. It's worth the effort going a little out of your way to find what you need, but you can always substitute if you prefer.
Bread appears in this soup in the form of sourdough starter, which is used to thicken and flavour the broth. I've only just started cooking with sourdough and I can't recommend it enough as it as it can be used in so many other dishes. Find out more about sourdough here. If you don't have and/or don't want to make your own sourdough starter you could always substitute a tablespoon or two of plain flour, you won't get the sourdough taste but it will thicken the soup which will still taste great.
Thanks Kris. Excellent suggestion :-)
Polish White Sausages and Smoked Ham
- 200g smoked bacon
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp fresh horseradish grated finely (substitute with 1 tbsp horseradish sauce if you can't find any fresh)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 500g Polish white sausages
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5l water
- 165g sourdough starter
- 2 tsp marjoram
- 125ml sour cream
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sourdough bread
- Freshly grated horseradish
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER PORTION
- Calories | 485
- Fat | 26.7g
Serves | 6
Prep Time | 10
Cooking Time | 50 minutes
- In a large heavy based saucepan, saute the bacon, garlic and onion in the sunflower oil for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden.
- Remove from the heat, season generously with salt and pepper, stir in the horseradish, then the sausages, the water and the bay leaf. Return to the heat, cover, bring to the boil then simmer for about 30 minutes until the sausages are cooked through.
- Remove the sausages and set aside for later.
- In a medium bowl sir 4-5 tablespoons of the hot broth one at a time into the sourdough starter to slacken it and then pour it into the pot of soup together with the marjoram and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring continuously to stop the sourdough from separating, sinking and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.
- In a medium bowl, add the sour cream and slowly trickle in about a quarter of your hot soup, stirring all the time. Then return the lot back into the soup and stir well.
- Slice the sausages and add to the soup.
- Serve with hard boiled eggs, sour dough bread and freshly grated horseradish.