The Coveted Stink Soup Recipe
December 3, 2000
I'm making my patented Stink Soup today. It's actally sour cabbage soup (an eastern European delight), but for some reason I've taken to calling it Stink Soup because Joe insists that despite the savory flavor, it has somewhat of a stinky smell coming out of the refrigerator. I don't know about that, but I do know that drinking my Stink Soup sure beats eating from the falafel cart three meals a day.
I developed my taste for Stink Soup when I was but a wee lass. My family used to live in an apartment across the street from a Polish restaurant called "Christine's." Oh, darling Christine. How I miss your vinyl chairs and tacky pastel paneling. Christines had some of the best Polish food I've ever eaten, even to this day. Their peirogies were delectable. Their blintzes were light and scrumptious. And their sour cabbage soup? To quote Primo from the movie Big Night, "...it tastes so good...you have to kill yourself!" Damn, that was good soup.
Another thing about Christines that I remember vividly was their mint jar. Like many diner-esque restaurants, Christines had a jar of mints by the cash register. But this was a special jar. It was shaped like a pig. The pig's head was the lid, which you had to tilt back in order to gain access to the sweet, sweet mints within. But it was all a trick, see. Because when you tilted the head back, the pig jar would emit this horrible sqealing "OINK, OINK, OINK" noise, so loud that everyone in the restaurant would have to turn around and see you greedily stuffing a handful of mints into your pocket, calling attention to the fact that you were indeed the Mint Pig. It was mortifying. But I still really wanted the mints. So I would just try to get my hand in and out of the jar as fast as I possibly could
Yes, Christine's was a good place. But years later, the inevitable occured. My family moved. I went to college. When I got back, Christines had closed down. My little slice of Warsaw was gone forever.
I mourned the loss of Christines for a long time. I especially mourned the loss of the sour cabbage soup, since unlike peirogies and blintzes, I haven't yet been able to find another restaurant that cooks a soup quite like it. (It's not borscht. I've tried borscht, and it's totally different.) Other eastern European diners, even the much lauded 2rd Avenue Deli, just didn't do it for me. Matzoh ball soup just doesn't make me as happy.
Not until last year did I come across the notion that I could be a master of my own destiny and make my own sour cabbage soup. The problem was, I had no idea how. There was no recipe that I could find. All I had left were my soupy memories. So that's what I relied on. I tried to remember what the soup tasted like, tried to remember what chunks I had seen floating in the soup, and I just kind of made it up from that point on. And you know what? It turned out really good. At least I think so. In fact, I just had a bowl not ten minutes ago. Jealous? Well, you don't need to be anymore. For detailed below is my E-Z and ultra-precise recipe for Michelle's Stink Soup.
MICHELLE'S STINK SOUP
(so good, you'll have to kill yourself)
Get a thing of sour kraut. I don't know how much. I just usually get the kind that comes in the larger rectangular bag in the cold-cut section at the supermarket. Let's say 4 cups.
Get some cabbage. Again, I'm not sure how much. Maybe half a head if it's one of those big-momma cabbages, or the whole head if it's one of those little cabbages not too much bigger than the head of your Cabbage Patch Kid.
Get some pork. You're going to be cutting it up into little one-inch by one-inch cubes so...get enough to extract, like, thirty cubes. Don't freak out, it makes a lot of soup. Anyway, pork is good for you. Unless you're Kosher. Then don't use pork. Use one of those other dead animals.
Get some potatoes. If you're using big monster potatoes, 3 should be enough. Smaller potatoes, you can use 4 or 5. Potatoes are good. Can't go wrong with potatoes.
Oh, and get some dill weed at the supermarket too.
So, you have a great big empty soup pot, right? It has to be big. Maybe 9 inches high and 12 inches in diameter. Or something like that. Anyway, get a big pot. Dump the sauerkraut in there. Chop up the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and dump those in there. Dump in the pork cubes. Then dump in some water. How much? Good question. I usually put in two full coffee pots of water. How much water that is, I have no clue. But that's not a big deal, because if you need to add more water later, you do that.
Turn on the fire. Stir everything around. When the water starts boiling, turn it down a little and let it do its boiling thing for a while. Then you can dump in some dill (this will make the whole thing dill-icious) and some salt. The salt makes the soup salty, which can be good for counteracting the sourness. It's going to start to smell pretty good by this point. But patience! Let the soup cook for a long time. I'm talking hours here. I'd say about 4 hours, give or take. Cook that sucker until everything in the pot is all soft and falling apart and yummy.
Oh man, that soup be fi-zine. It rocks the hi-zouse. So tasty I have to pull out outdated homie-slang from 1997. Try making a pot of your own, and trust me, you'll be Polish in no time.