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This Dill Pickle Soup (or “Zupa Ogorkowa” in Polish) is the most popular Polish soup of them all. Here, you will find a traditional Polish recipe for pickle soup. For some, it may sound strange, but if most Polish kids love it, then there must be something to it.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
Polish Pickle Soup Special Ingredient
I lived in Poland for the first 29 years of my life and literally, I had never heard of a person that wouldn’t like a dill pickle soup. It has a tang, but that tang is tempered by the cooked pickles. Some might perceive this soup as having a sour broth, but really it is super mild with a little backend tang.
In fact, you can actually control the sourness of this soup and accommodate different palates. If you like more then mild tang, then you can always adjust it with the pickle water.
However, there is one very important thing that I need to mention right at the start: You CANNOT use pickles in vinegar for this Polish pickle soup. Translation, that means that most of the stuff that you find in a regular supermarket will not work.
The pickles have to be in a brine. You will need to read the ingredients. If they have vinegar in it, do not buy it for this soup. I always buy mine from a little Polish grocery store, but I’ve found that most good Jewish delis have pickles in brine as well. You can find the Polish Pickles Salted in Brine on Amazon (affiliate link – please read below)
On the below photo you will see the jar with pickles that I usually buy for my soup. I am not affiliated with this company and I do not receive any compensation for showing you their product. I just love these pickles and use them all the time. But I think that any cucumbers in brine would work for this recipe.
How to make Pickle Soup
Now, obviously every Mom and Grandma from Poland would tell you that their soup is the best and the most authentic, but I think that all of them taste amazing and they do not differ much in terms of ingredients and cooking methods. One distinguishing characteristic thing about Polish soups is the fact that they are ALL made based on a meat broth.
So you start every soup by putting a piece of meat on the bone into the pot, add veggies, salt, spices and let it cook for a while.
For this pickle soup, the traditional meat is baby ribs. You can cut a couple of ribs from the rack and add to the pot (throw the rest in the crockpot and you’ll have another dinner :). That’s exactly what I used in this recipe.
But any meat on the bone would work (it can be chicken corpse, or legs, or a piece of beef on the bone). I’m referring a lot to the meat on the bone because it actually makes the best broth. And if you use good quality meat it’s also super healthy. But the beauty of this soup is that you can actually make it vegetarian or even vegan.
Vegetarian Version of Dill Pickle Soup
If you want to make this dill pickle soup the vegetarian way: I would suggest:
- first sautéing veggies (without pickles),
- add a tablespoon of butter first (it will make them super fragrant),
- then add the vegetable stock, season it and cook until veggies are done.
- From there, follow with the rest of this recipe.
Important Tips for Making this Polish Pickle Soup
Traditionally this soup needs to be finished with a dollop of sour cream (you can use heavy cream instead if that’s what you prefer). If you want to go vegan, simply sauté veggies in some olive oil (or other oil of your choice) and skip the cream.
TIP: One more super important trick to keep in mind when you’re cooking this soup is that you’ll have to cook the pickles separately and then mix them into the broth at the end. Cooking everything together is the most common mistake made by young Polish cooks.
I made this mistake myself when I was in my early twenties, and my soup (although the taste was delicious) was weird and far from what my mom used to make. All my veggies were sort of hard and crunchy and they should have been soft.
I had no idea what I did wrong. I called my mom and told her that my pickle soup was off. The first question that she asked me, was whether I cooked pickles in the broth. I proudly said ‘I did,’ and she quickly responded by saying ‘that was exactly what I shouldn’t have done.’
Pickles are sour and potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables will not cook well in a sour water… Who knew? I didn’t make this mistake ever again. So, now I cook my broth separately and I sauté pickles with a tablespoon of butter first, and then add a little water and let them cook for a half hour or so.
What Makes Polish Soups Different
Another distinguishing fact about Polish soups is that they’re also chunky. Traditional Polish soups are never blended. There may be some new soups with foreign influences that will be blended or creamed, but traditional soups are chunky with all the root veggies cut up and cooked well in a broth.
If you want to make this pickle soup creamed, go ahead and use your blender. My son loves it this way.
So I’ve heard recently that Americans love their pickles. If you one of them then I encourage you to try this traditional Polish dill pickle soup. It will not disappoint you! 🙂
Also, I’ve been asked by several of my readers, who are Polish but were either born abroad, or are a second/third generation of Polish ancestors, or simply know and love Polish cuisine, to share some more traditional Polish recipes. I really appreciate this feedback and I am definitely making a purpose to post more Polish dishes. Today I present to you my absolute favorite soup: the best Polish dill pickle soup recipe. But if you are looking for some other traditional Polish Dishes you may like:
- Authentic Polish Pierogi with Potatoes and Cheese
- Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi from Scratch
- Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Easy European Style Potato Pancakes
- Polish Fluffy Apple Pancakes
- Polish Cucumber Salad – Mizeria
- Rainbow Carrots Salad
- Breton Beans (Fasolka po Bretonsku)
- Bigos – Polish Hunters Stew
Dill Pickle Soup
- 1/2 baby pork ribs
- 8 cups stock or water
- 4 carrots , chopped
- 2 parsnips small, chopped
- 2 leeks small, chopped
- 2 celery stalks , chopped
- 4 potatoes medium, chopped
- 3-4 pickles large, shredded
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 allspice berries
- 3 springs parsley
- 1 tablespoon dill chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon butter (for vegan version use oil)
- 1/4 cup sour cream or heavy cream (optional)
- 1 tablespoon flour (optional)
- 1 cube of chicken or vegetable bullion (optional, you can just use salt and pepper)
- Salt and pepper for taste
- Water from cucumbers in brine (this can be used to adjust taste of the soup)
- In a soup pot place baby ribs and cover with water or stock
- Add leeks, parsnips cut in a half (you will want to remove them once the soup is cooked)
- Add chopped carrots, celery and potatoes
- Add parsley springs, bay leaves, allspice
- Cover and cook until meat is cooked and veggies are soft
- You can add some salt and pepper at this point but be prepared to finish seasoning once the pickles are added to the soup
- In a separate sauce pan melt the butter and add shredded pickles
- Cook for about 5 minutes
- Add as much water to only slightly cover the pickles and cook for another 15 minutes
- Once everything is cooked and soft, add pickles to the broth
- At this point you should adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and optionally with water from the cucumbers brine
- You may want to remove parsnip and leeks so they are not getting in your way
- In a cap add cream and optionally flour (I skipped flour for my version) and mix together
- Start adding a little bit of soup into this cap and mix well
- Repeat this until you almost have the whole cap of soup with cream mixture
- Then just pour it into the soup and mix well
- Add dill and serve immediately
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. I only recommend what I like and use. Please only purchase what you need.
Check these other popular soups recipes:
- Tomato Red Lentil Coconut Soup
- Chunky Potato Leek Soup
- Creamy Spinach Soup with Parmesan Croutons
- Ham and Cheese Soup with White Wine & Gruyere
- Greek Lentil Soup – Fakes
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Best Brunch Seattle
Cannot believe all the ingredients that goes into this soup. Looks fantastic!
Thanks so much! 🙂
A wlasnie ze szukalam przepis na zupe ogorkowa! Jedno pytanie: ile gram tych zeberek? A jezeli nie mam zeberek…w ich zamian, co moglabym uzyc i ile? Np. kosci kurze?
Hej Monika, 3-6 zeberek wystarczy, mozesz uzyc kurczaka jak nie masz zeberek.
That soup sounds absolutely amazing! I love the idea of it – all that sharp sour and savoury. Gorgeous!
Thanks a lot Elizabeth!
Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy
What an incredible use for pickles???!!!! And it was my mother too, who taught me never to try and cook vegetables in a tangy medium. In Indian food, we use a lot of tamarind, but it’s always added at the end, after the vegetables and spices have cooked. There’s more wisdom that’s handed down from family than we could possibly ever get through cookbooks.
Thanks Tina! You’re absolutely right – there’s a lot more wisdom handed down from families that we can learn from books 🙂
Lisa | Garlic & Zest
This is the first time I’ve heard of pickle soup – but I loved reading your post, because it lends so much insight into the culture… Brined pickles instead of vinegar based, baby ribs or chicken “corpse” – I laughed out loud at that and the fact that the pickles had to be cooked separately! I’m intrigued.
Thanks Lisa! I’m glad you had a good time reading my post! If you decide to try this recipe, let me know how you liked it!
Elaine @ Dishes Delish
How simply intriguing. I have never heard of this Polish dill pickle soup! I think when one thinks of pickles, we think of dill pickles! I’m glad you mentioned you need the ones in brine. I have to make this soup soon as I love all types of pickles!!
Great! Thanks Elaine. Let me know how you liked it!
I have not had this before, but I know I must! Saving to try.
So you do not keep or eat the parsnips or leeks? I was confused by that, because I love both so much! Are they just strictly for the broth and do you leave the meat in the soup from the ribs or are you just making the broth from the bones?
Hi Christy, I personally take both leeks and parsnips out as I cook them whole in the broth/soup (that’s the Polish thing). But you can chop them like carrots and potatoes and keep them in the soup if you like them. Yes, the meat stays in the soup. You need two pots: one small for cooking pickles with butter and the other big one for cooking the soup. I’m not making separate broth from the bones. In Poland, we cook everything in one pot: meat and veggies. But you can adjust if you want to. I just wanted to present the real version of this soup from Poland.
Hi! I was wondering what the best method is to freeze it? I wanted to send it to a friend.
Hey Angie, you can easily freeze it in plastic containers. Make sure to leave at least half inch from the top as the liquid expands when you freeze it. I freeze soups in small plastic containers all the time. It’s super easy to just defrost and have it handy whenever I need soup 🙂
why no onions or garlic?
You can use them if you want. I made a traditional Polish recipe that I grew up with.
I just made this and it tasted just like my mother’s recipe! My husband told me he would propose to me if we weren’t married!
I made the first part in a slow cooker and did not add the potatoes. I strained everything out, chopped carrots, replaced celery because to mushy, (had to cook for 30 minutes to soften)) at this point added potatoes I boiled on stove.
Used whole jar pickled cucumbers and left chunky. Did add sour cream, salt pepper, little onion and garlic powder. And brine. Love fresh dill so topped each bowl with just a bit.
Excellent! Posted on Facebook and several requests am sending Pinterest link.
Thanks for the recipe!!!!
Thank you so much
This look incredible and I’m excited to make it. However, I was hoping you could answer some questions,
How long do you cook the meat and vegetables in the broth? Are we going for a short time until the meat is tender, of is it a long cook for a more in-depth flavor? Do you leave the meat in the soup or do you remove it with the bones? When you remove the parsnip and leek, do you discard them? The ingredients say to chop the parsnip and then the instructions say to cut in half. It sounds like you just use them for flavor for the broth, yes? Or are they added back to the soup? The recipe says to shred the pickles, but the pictures look like the pickles are sliced. Are they shredded like cheese? Or sliced? When you cook the pickles with the water, is the point to soften them? And, finally, how much brine would you recommend? I know it will be based on taste, but if I have never tasted this soup before (I have not), I will not have a sense of what flavor I am going for.
The longer you cook your meat and veggies, the more flavor you’ll get but you also don’t want the veggies to become mush. I would say no more than an hour. Parsnip has a very distinctive taste, some people like them, some don’t. I usually discard it but it’s an individual decision. The pickles for the soup are shredded like cheese. I left few slices for garnish. Yes, when you boil the pickles you make them softer. You cannot cook them with the broth because veggies would not cook in sour water. I can’t tell you how much brine to add. It depends on your pickles. Sometimes I add it because I want my soup to have a more sour taste and sometimes I don’t have to because the pickles were sour enough. You need to taste and figure out how you like it.