Monday, July 8, 2013

Deconstructed Chłodnik

Chłodnik is a Polish cold beet soup along the lines of a cold borscht (борщ) that comes to my mind each year when the first beets arrive just as the weather is turning miserably hot and humid. You can see the shockingly pink soup in all its glory in this post, garnished with hard-boiled egg, dill, and diced beets.

In very recent days, we have done a deconstructed version of this soup for our nightly Chef's Whim tasting menu, a version that customers have raved about.

Traditional chłodnik (where "traditional" means "what my grandmother used to make" and varies quite naturally from person to person) is roughly made from beets, sour pickles, cucumbers, dill, and some form of tart dairy product, such as buttermilk. That said, it's a soup and I'm certain that very few cooks follow a formal recipe and each batch will contain whatever ingredients are at hand.

Deconstructed Chłodnik: Dill Pickle Soup with Pickled Beet Sorbet

For our tasting, we pulled the soup and the beets apart. Our soup is Greek yogurt, cornichons, cornichon brine, water, cucumber, dill, and just enough honey to tame the vinegar and yogurt. Once it comes out of the blender, it almost tastes like a refreshing dill pickle soup.

The beets we roasted, pickled for 48 hours, and blended very fine with the pickling liquid and then put in the ice cream machine to make a sorbet.

Final plate up is the yogurt soup base down in the bowl, then we scatter around chopped cornichons, chopped hard-boiled egg, dill fronds, and smoked sablefish. In the very center, we place a quenelle of the pickled beet sorbet and top that with a cucumber-tasting borage flower from my garden.

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