Babka’s Green Bean Soup (Polievka zo Zelenej Fazule)

Slovak Green Bean SoupI made this soup the other day for the first time in a long while. It was another of Babka’s classic soups. It is based upon a format that many Eastern European soups follow: dairy (sour cream) with vinegar, and seasoned with dill. Couple that base with almost any vegetable that you have on hand and you have a satisfying, filling soup. They usually begin with a roux, made usually from bacon fat and flour, to create a thickening agent. I used less bacon and added a tablespoon of butter instead. You can play around with the proportions, according to your tastes.

Wash about a pound of fresh young Green Beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces
Peel about 4 medium Potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces
One large sprig of fresh Dill from the garden, or about ¼ t. dry
8 oz. Sour Cream (I used the Lite version successfully)
2-3 strips of Bacon – cut up in about 1” pieces
2 cloves Garlic – minced
3 T. Vinegar
2-3 T Flour
1 T Butter
4 Qts. Water (could use vegetable broth, if desired)
Salt & Pepper – to taste

Slightly render the bacon pieces in a small sauce pan and add the garlic as you do so. Remove them from the heat before the bacon gets crisp and set aside. Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pan and let it melt. Then add the flour and continue to mix it together with a spoon to make a roux. Once the flour is starting to become toasted in the oil and almost turning golden, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot, place the green beans and potato pieces and cover with about 4 quarts of water. Add about 1 T. of salt to flavor water & bring almost to a boil over a medium high heat. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the bacon pieces and garlic to the water, and also the vinegar and dill. Let this cook until the green beans and potatoes are just beginning to become tender.

Place the sour cream in a bowl and slowly pour a ladleful of soup liquid into it while stirring with a spoon to temper the sour cream. Repeat this a few times, and then add the mixture into the soup. At this point, add some of the roux to the water and allow it to thicken as it simmers. Keep adding a little of the roux at a time until it comes to the thickness you desire. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, and remove the sprig of dill at this time. Serve with rye bread. Makes about 8 servings

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