A combination of cremini mushrooms, potatoes and smoked bacon makes a hearty, yet light enough to serve as a first course. Adding a jolt of flavor to the soup is shiitake mushroom powder quickly made in a coffee grinder. This mushroom powder elevates this humble soup to the sublime. Top the soup with a dollop of sour cream and serve with homemade rye bread. Although the cremini mushrooms are flavorful, this soup needed more mushroom flavor which you get from dried mushrooms. In fact, the original mushroom soup recipe uses only dried shiitakes to make the soup.
Our culinary journey of the countries of the European Union continues with Slovakia, a totally landlocked country surrounded by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. Slovakia is indeed a melting pot of culinary flavors. As there is no real Slovakian cuisine as the food varies from region to region and is based on traditional customs and peasant or provincial cooking. Pork is the most popular meat followed by poultry products. Cabbage and potatoes rank high of the list of vegetables consumed as well as eggs and dairy products. The national dish may well be bryndzové halusky, little potato dumplings with bacon and Bryndza, a soft sheep milk cheese . With this recipe Terry from Crumpets and Co leads us through Slovakia as our “B” month in the European Union Culinary ABC.
Mushroom Soup (Hubová Polievka)
Recipe Adapted From Slovak Cooking
1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and dried
1 ounce dried mushrooms, rinsed or 8 ounces fresh, rinsed and patted dry, sliced
5 cups salted water
3 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 slices, smoked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sour cream
Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground. You should have about 3 tablespoons. Set aside while preparing soup.
Add water to a large soup pot, add mushrooms and potatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Meanwhile fry the bacon until crisp. When done, remove the bacon to a plate. Pour off most of the fat, add the flour, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add to the pot along with the cooked bacon. Simmer until potatoes and mushrooms are soft. Add 1-3 tablespoons of the mushroom powder. Stir in sour cream, if desired: Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning. To serve, pour into soup bowls, top with sour cream and chopped green onions.
Eastern European Potato-Rye Bread
Recipe From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes four-1-pound loaves, easily halved or doubled
3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup mashed potato
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seed, plus additional for sprinkling on the top crust
1 cup rye flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel
Cornstarch wash (recipe follows)
- I halved the recipe and prepared the dough in a bread machine. Add ingredients to the bread machine pan according to manufacturer’s instructions for your machine. Process on the dough cycle. When the cycle has completed, remove dough to a floured surface. Divide in half.Let rest 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler pan tray on a lower shelf.
- Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the cornstarch wash and then sprinkle with additional caraway seeds. Slash the loaf with deep parallel cuts across the loaf.
- Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and firm. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk well with a fork. Microwave or boil until mixture appears glassy, about 30-60 seconds on high. The wash will keep refrigerated for two weeks. Discard if it has an off smell.
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