Potato Soup also has played a large role in Polish culture, just as it has in other cultures. It has been eaten by peasants for centuries. Because it can be made with a vegetarian broth, it is a popular dish during Lent and other meatless days.
Even in movies such as The Pianist, Potato Soup is mentioned. It is a soup that has kept people going during lean times.
On talking about living under Communism and why my family left, my Babcia once lamented that "You could stand in long lines behind people to buy your allowed food at the store. Then, when it was finally your turn to buy, you would see that the shelves in the store were all empty except for one rotten bag of potatoes. You couldn't even make Potato Soup."
Yesterday while my father joined us for dinner and we ate this dish, my father asked me if I remembered the man with the really big spoons. I looked at him with surprise. The flavor of Potato Soup always brings back a faint memory of a man smiling at me while I tried to eat Potato Soup with very large spoons. The sort of spoons that for my age felt like they were as big as my face.
I never knew what this memory is of.
My father explained to me that when we were in Austria as refugees, the man would bring us Potato Soup with very large spoons. Spoons which were too big even for my father to use. Spoons like the ones used in The Pianist when the Szpilman family sits around eating what was probably Potato Soup.
Potato Soup is my memory of waiting and being given random acts of kindness from strangers.
Waiting to be given a direction where we could go.
Just like Lent is filled with waiting and being given a random act of kindness.
1 piece of Smoked Polish Bacon with Ribs*
1 Onion, peeled and quartered
2 Carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 3 large pieces
handful of Curly Parsley, chopped
20 Peppercorns, whole in spice ball
10 Potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into cubes
Salt to taste
Cream or Sour Cream, if you like
Chopped Chives or Curly Parsley to Garnish
In a large pot, place the Bacon, Onion, Carrots, Curly Parsley and Peppercorns and add water. Bring to Boil and cook on medium heat for 1/2 hour.
Remove from the liquid the Bacon, Onion, Carrots.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are soft.
Season with Salt.
Serve in bowl, garnish with Sour Cream and Chives or Curly Parsley, if you like. On the side, you can serve the Meat.
* I made this soup with meat to enjoy of Wednesday since we do not eat meat during Holy Three-Day Period. To make vegetarian, just remove meat from list of ingredients.