There is nothing like coming home from a winter’s day walk and enjoying a nice warm bowl of a clear chicken soup - even better, if it’s Polish soup called Rosół!
Traditional Polish cuisine - or what you would normally eat when dining at Babcia’s (Grandma’s) usually consists of three courses: a soup, a second course and dessert. On more formal occasions, you would have also appetizers and all those fancy courses you can see written on a restaurant’s menu - but those first three, or even just the first two, make the foundation of eating the Polish way. And soups hold a very important place in everyday’s lunch or dinner time.
Żurek, a soup from sour rye and with boiled eggs, cabbage soup or a tomato soup with sour cream are all common and very much loved - but a good old Polish chicken soup known as Rosół will crown the meal more than once a week in a typical Polish family.
Just as Żurek soup is known to cure hangovers, Polish chicken soup is said to be a great remedy for anyone who happens to catch a cold. That’s why it’s handy to know the recipe in case you do feel unwell.
The history of Rosół goes back hundreds of years. There are many variations of the chicken broth in the world and especially in the Slavic countries. The name is said to derive from the dish made of meat cooked in a lot of water to make it edible and clear out the salt it was covered in for preservation (rosół as in roz-sól or to un-salt). What’s good to know is that during the beginnings, the term rosół was also used to describe a fish marinade. These days, of course, you would use fresh chicken meat to create this meal. One of the first written recipes appeared in Compendium Ferculorum, the first Polish cookbook in the 17th Century, published in Kraków by a prominent chef Stanisław Czerniecki. He stated that you can include animal meat of all kinds in the broth, even mentioning pigeon meat. The use of herbs such as parsley and dill, as well as onion and garlic were advised in order to eliminate unpleasant odours coming from the meat.
That said, there are types of this soup created with other kinds of meat, like the Royal Rosół (Rosół Królewski), which is made from three kinds of meat: veal or beef, white poultry and dark poultry, but also The Hunter’s Rosół (Rosół myśliwski) which uses the meat from wild birds - whatever you use, just don’t add pork as it wouldn’t make the broth clear. The soup is served with thin pasta, preferably homemade (although this too can be bought conveniently in a supermarket or a Polish food store).
Then, because of the convenience of this meal, it soon became popular. One of the great masterpieces of Polish literature, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz, a novel written entirely in rhyme, talks about the first course of one of the feasts being clear broth prepared with great art. Then, by the 19th Century, you could find a variety of different recipes, all dedicated to different types of its uses: for the healthy, the sick, or children, for special events or just daily consumption. All this proves the soup to have become a staple in the cuisine of the nation!
Now let’s take a look at the classical kind of Rosół soup recipe, so that you can be sure you have covered the basics!
You can prepare Rosół at home easily. Although Polish cuisine is quite rich in meat, there are ways to make the soup vegetarian and vegan even, though it does make it lose a bit of its known flavor. Still, the good thing is that wherever you are in the world, you can make sure that your family gets a taste of an authentic Polish home meal. Here’s how!
Take a large pot and add your chicken into it, leaving bones in the chicken as they contribute to the flavor of the soup. Then add water, covering the chicken, bring to a boil and then let it simmer on medium heat for about two hours, taking off any impurities that appear on the surface in order to get a clear chicken stock. Making broth clear is the key to this soup, and that’s why it needs to be cooked slowly. After about an hour, add all the vegetables and spices to the pot and few minutes before the time is up, you can add in the noodles or cook them separately. Serve the soup with some rye bread as a meal on its own, or just as the beginning of the feast of Polish foods! Smacznego!
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