The entire concept of soup is different in Eastern Europe. People in the UK find it hard to get their heads around the idea of cold soups or fruit soups, yet in the summer in Poland, we use soups to refresh us, or sometimes even as a sort of dessert. At my new supper club – A Slavic Tale – I want to explore this idea further, by gently challenging Western perspectives. Not only on the idea of soup, of course. Do you think of Eastern European food as meat heavy? Well, this is a vegetarian supper club. Do you associate Polish cuisine with potatoes? I use kasza instead (kasza is the word we use for all the grains as well as porridge). Do you think we eat a lot of beetroot? OK, actually that’s very true.
I want to preserve traditions, but I also want to be modern and fresh. I like to use the old ways to create something new – for example in my Botwinka soup, I used chill beet kwas – fermented beetroot juice with chillies. I served the soup cold, as we were celebrating summer solstice – Wianki – and it was a beautiful warm evening. If you would like to try this soup at home, this is the last chance now, as you need those young beetroot with lovely green leaves and pink stems, like these: