Page:Zupy i sosy.djvu/5

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Until very recently in Poland, soups were an integral part of the midday meal, similar to the French tradition which greatly influenced our own. Recent questioning by doctors into the nutritional value and fatty nature of soups has led to their disappearance from menus in favor of salads, vegetables, and even legumes. The characteristics of soups have also greatly changed over time. Historically prepared using a base of broth or meat extract, soups are today mostly prepared with bone. They taste of cooked mushrooms and vegetables, are seasoned with cream, egg yolks, butter, and flour, and are garnished with various garden vegetables and groats. Today's soups are nearly vegetable dishes, in both taste and composition. The recipes have been adapted for the common people, lest they be dropped from the food tradition and forgotten entirely.

A clear, strong meat broth should only be prepared when its meat is to be served as a meat course. It is then cooked in large quantities, boiling for two days in summer or three days in winter. We arrived at this frugal wisdom by following the example of the French, whose delicious "pot au feu" broth is a traditional Sunday dish for middle class families. Both the meat and vegetables are consumed on the day they were prepared, indeed without any of our delicious gravies or sauces for the meat. The broth is consumed in the following days with various garnishes and additions. In homes with men with big appetites, adolescents, and elderly with poor digestion on a liquid diet, the soup course cannot be overlooked or replaced. We only need to modernize it, making it less expensive and time consuming, while retaining its existing character or even improving its taste and nutritional value.

At dinner with guests, or even a more lavish meal, a soup course is required, or even a choice of two soups. One soup must be clear: meat broth, borscht, or clear kwasek; the second soup a purée seasoned with egg yolk, vegetables, etc. Clear borscht, strong bullion, or poultry broth are served at the beginning or end of the meal, depending on the preferences of the hosts and the arrangement of courses—or at the beginning of a longer, more filling supper. It it occasionally served in cups. Borscht or hot meat broth is the only hot dish served at Eastern dinner or for a cold supper á la fourchette. Keeping in mind Polish tastes, I have not included fanciful American soups, which tend to be incredibly spicy, and French soups