Have you ever wanted to skip dinner and go straight for dessert? Well, in Poland you can! However, rather than from the desire for sugar, it all originates from the times of the communist Polish People Republic. Back then, the shop shelves were almost empty and you had to be creative in the kitchen to make anything to eat. And Poles became masters at that.
Below you will find three examples of dishes that back then served as substantial meals and now are eaten from time to time as the main course, be it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are all fast to make, easy, and made out of simple ingredients.
Zupa mleczna (Milk soup) is, as the name suggests, a soup based on milk. It can be eaten as a savory dish, but the sweet version is far more popular. To make it more filling, people often enjoy it with starchy foods, such as noodles, pasta, dumplings, grains (rice or semolina), or sometimes even chunks of bread. My mother always makes it with fresh drop noodles (kluski lane). If you’re bored with the cliché pairing of milk and cereal, this soup is a great way to break the routine.
For those born in communist Poland or the early years of its transformation into the country that it is today, milk soup certainly has a nostalgic taste. It used to be served in preschool canteens, milk bars, and other low-cost diners. However, not everybody has good memories of it. While the taste itself is good, you have to eat this soup while warm, because when it turns cold, the skin forms on the milk’s surface. I, for one, hated when it happened. So beware of this!
Below you’ll find a recipe for this quick dish as well as for the drop noodles my mother makes.
- 500ml of whole non-UHT milk
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
- Pour milk into a saucepan and add sugar.
- Bring milk to a boil, then reduce the heat. As the milk cooks, prepare the batter for the drop noodles.
- In a bowl, add flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt. Whisk it all together until well combined. It should be smooth and a little bit on the thicker side.
- Take a regular tablespoon and dip it in hot milk. Spoon up the batter and drop it one by one into hot milk.
- When you have no more batter, continue cooking everything together on medium heat for a minute or two, until the noodles are soft.
Zupa owocowa z makaronem
We are used to the idea that soup should be a hot, filling, and savory dish. However, there are some exceptions: fruit soups have a quite long history in Polish cuisine. They used to be a regular part of the summer menu. The ingredients for hot fruit soups included wine, water and sugar, and either egg yolk or cream that was supposed to thicken it. There were also chilled versions made from raw, mashed fruit mixed with cream or buttermilk.
Nowadays, they remain the taste of summer and probably have as many advocates as adversaries. For some, fruit and soup just don’t seem to collocate.
Just like was the case with milk soup, you need to add noodles to it to make it more substantial. Otherwise, it would be like drinking hot kompot.
One of the most popular ones is perhaps the strawberry soup, but you can make it out of any fruit you want. To make it, always go for the seasonal fruits: cherries, blueberries, strawberries, you name it. While the fresher the fruits are, the better the taste of the resulting soup, you can always use frozen or dried fruits to make it when you crave it, especially when the season is over.
- 1 kg of strawberries
- 4 tbsp of sugar
- around 1,5l of water
- juice from half of lemon
- 1 tbsp of potato starch
- 170 g of cooked egg noodles
- 4 tbsp of cream (12 or 18%)
- mint leaves (a classy garnish)
- Wash the strawberries and cut off their tops. Transfer them into a big pot.
- Add sugar and pour the water in. Cook all of it on medium heat for 10 minutes, then squeeze in the lemon juice.
- When the strawberries become very soft, continue cooking only for a minute or two.
- In a small bowl, mix the potato starch with a few tablespoons of cold water. Add 4 tbsp of warm liquid from the cooking strawberries, and combine until smooth.
- Slowly pour the starchy mixture into the main pot. Remember to stir continuously while doing so. Set aside for around 5-10 minutes. During this time, the soup should thicken. Serve hot or cold with cooked egg noodles, a dollop of cream, and a compulsory mint leaf on top.
You can use this recipe with basically any fruit you like, strawberries are merely a suggestion.
Makaron z truskawkami
The name of this dish could be translated as pasta with strawberries. You read that right. Although it may seem to be some twisted way of waging war against the Italians, most Polish people actually really enjoy eating this dish.
Nobody knows who really came up with this bright idea. Perhaps some resourceful lady decided to shake up the culinary world by mixing the leftover ingredients from her dinner. Notwithstanding, pasta with strawberries became an iconic Polish dish.
The name explains everything you need to know about how to prepare this dish. To make it, you have to mix boiled pasta with blended or crushed raw strawberries, and done! Some people spice it up a bit by adding a dollop or two of cream and/or a teaspoon of sugar (if the strawberries are not sweet enough).
When it comes to pasta, any type will do. Spaghetti, pappardelle, farfalle, penne, rotini… The ball is in your court!
In the summer, nothing cools you down better than pasta with strawberries. So cover up your eyes and ears, dear Italians, because this dish is here to stay.
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