Here’s a fantastic potato soup recipe! This one is so rich and thick, it can easily become a meal of its own when accompanied with a big chunk of bread.
You know I’m crazy about soups. Without soup my meal is incomplete. Most people feel this way about a side salad. But you also know I don’t care about salads. So today, we do another soup together.
You will love this one!
The (obvious) main ingredient is potato (along with onions and carrots), cut into tiny cubes, simmered to perfection in the warmest, most comforting way, and finished off with a little bit of heavy cream to seal in thickness.
You may think the soup is thick enough without the cream so feel free to skip it. But what I insist on is that you dice – almost mince really – potatoes into smallest cubes you can. It’ll make all the difference.
This recipe was also contributed by our Samir Hajdarević, and is accompanied with his text about the Balkans.
“The Balkans is a powder keg.” That’s how the great German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, defined its untamable nature. That Bismarck was correct was witnessed by numerous overthrows, wars, destructions of old and makings of new regimes, celebration of progressive ideas, and yet another return to the previous ones. And on and on throughout the entire history. Countries come and go. Whether empires marched in from east or west, whether so tough and loud the earth rumbled under their conquering march, or whether native empires, rising from the elation of ideas of freedom coming from subjugated people. With each came the assurance it was the last, where people naively forgot one fact: there aren’t as many things in the world with such a tendency for change such as are the Balkans borders. You are born in one country, and are never certain in which one you will die, all the while spending your life in one place.
Balkan people are a little bit set in their ways regarding this question. Unable to settle down in one place. They don’t have luck with countries, nor do countries have luck with them. They find luck in some new country before the old one has even «cooled» down. My grandmother lived in four countries. Four countries, three wars (two world wars), two revolutions, yet she did not move one inch her entire life. A lot of life is stuffed into one lifetime here. Every change brings along something of its own, customs, habits, virtues and shortcomings, some life mannerisms arrive in preset societal frameworks, spirits of the time. Sometimes I feel time and history have a rhythm of their own, different from other parts of the world, a treatment predetermined specially for us.
That which accumulated sediments of time a long ago, that which from a rational standpoint, should have been forgotten or buried into archives, here is always fresh and full of life. It’s as if the entire history happened yesterday. That’s how we act. We forgive with difficulty, we forget even less, and we never learn how to live with the past.
On the other hand, people here are incredibly warm hearted, like in not many places of the world. They’re adorned with unusual empathy and good tempered towards another. And right here begins the paradox. People adorned by goodness (I believe this completely), have latently, through the entire history, been followed by the shadow of conflicts and different boilings, escalating in shorter or longer time intervals. I was never able to explain this polarity to myself. But that it exists is best evidenced through the cyclical periods of prosperity and conflicts. So depending on the period of time in which we are born, we are divided into luckier and unluckier generations.
My growing up was quite turbulent. The first years I can remember fell right before Yugoslavia’s dissolution. It resembled an agony of a previously healthy person terminally affected. Suddenly discovered, it swallowed them completely leaving their closest in a disbelief of it happening. A very similar thing happened with Yugoslavia. The system which almost did not recognize social differences, and sternly judged any differentiation based on ethnic or religious determinants, the one which propagated cultural differences as the greatest values, suddenly started to crumble in places earlier thought impossible, and our parents’ whose generation grew up during those times of no cares in the world, flabbergasted and muted searched for answers of what and why it happened. Everything connecting us before now divided us.
But it seems this is how it always was. The wheel of history constantly turns in circles here. The destiny likes to play on this playground. To experiment in different ways. All of this has brought upon great prosperity, and was also the well of great turbulences. A lot of that broke over these spaces in spite of itself. The division of the Roman Empire into easter and wester went through this region (395); the later church division drew its borders into the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches following the course of Drina and Danube rivers (1054); the Balkans set itself as an insurmountable challenge for the spread of the Ottoman Empire toward central Europe, so it kept it on these grounds for a few centuries, allowed it to bring along its culture (unknown and foreign until then), which with time grew with this region and lives here today; and the modern times also followed the tradition so the iron curtain (German for eiserner vorhang, terminology first used for theater fire equipment, and later the border which divided Europe into two political blocks from after WWII until the fall of the Berlin Wall) wavered until it was brought down exactly here.
All those turbulences, smaller and larger, that as a result had many different identities, variety of cultural heritage, thickened on not such a large area, for me represents a true richness that one needs to experience.
- 1 carrot (large)
- 1 yellow onion (large)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 very large or 2 medium potatoes
- ½ tablespoon seasoned salt
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- ½ tablespoon parsley
- ½ tablespoon white flour
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
- Dice carrot and onion. Simmer in a pan on medium high until onion crystalizes and carrot softens (about 15-20 minutes). Add butter. Add water as necessary to prevent burning. (You'll be adding about 4-5 cups of water throughout the cooking process.)
- Peel and dice potato into very small cubes. Add to the pot together with one cup of water. Continue simmering on medium to low, adding water as necessary.
- Add spices in and mix thoroughly.
- Continue cooking and adding water for another 30-35 minutes, until the potato is soft, but not too soft. A few minutes before the end, add flour to thicken the soup and mix thoroughly and quickly. (Optional) Add heavy cream also, if you prefer an even thicker soup.