It isn’t Christmas without starting dinner with Babcia’s mushroom soup. Babcia means grandma in polish. Ever since I can remember, every Christmas my mother made us all start dinner with a small bowl of mushroom soup in memory of her mom. As a child I didn’t like the soup, I thought it was too plain; there were only mushrooms, noodles, and broth. There was nothing exciting about it. But, now I can’t imagine starting Christmas dinner without Babcia’s mushroom soup. In fact, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without it.This month’s recipe redux theme is “Vintage Side Dishes”. So I thought I would share the story of how this mushroom soup has become an integral part of my family’s Christmas tradition.
The Story
During the Christmas season, Babcia would always send relatives in Poland food like raisins, chocolate chips and/or coffee; items that could not be easily bought in a communist country. The relatives in turn would send back dried mushrooms that they picked themselves in the fall and dried throughout the winter.The most important part of a Polish Christmas Eve dinner is the ‘oplatek’.  This is a Polish tradition where you go around the table and give each person a blessing for the upcoming year. This blessing is symbolized by the breaking off and exchanging of each others oplatek. Traditionally, the dinner is 12 courses (intending to symbolize 12 apostles).  The first course usually is either beet soup with mushroom dumplings or soup made from dried mushrooms. As a child, my mother never liked ‘barszcz’ (beet soup), so Babcia always made mushroom soup from the mushrooms that the relatives sent.Babcia’s Soup recipe:

  • 2/3 cups dried mushrooms
  • 8 cups Chicken Stock (homemade preferred)
  • Noodles (homemade preferred)
  • 6 Tbsp Sour Cream

1. Pour enough boiling water over the mushrooms so they are submerged. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes. You can let is stand overnight if you prefer.
2. Drain water from mushrooms and add chicken stock. Cook at medium heat until hot.
3. Add egg noodles to soup and heat until noodles are cooked.
4. Before serving, stir in about 6 tbspoons of sour cream. Serve hot.

Optional: Saute 1/2 lb chopped fresh mushrooms and 1 onion finely chopped in butter. When this is done, stir in about 4 tbsps of flour, add a few tablespoons of stock stirring until smooth.  Then add to soup.  This will thicken up the soup.

Depending on the variety of dried mushrooms you make this recipe with, the soup can turn out  bland. Babcia and my mother use dried porcini mushrooms. If you can, buy wild mushrooms; they strengthen the mushroom flavour in the soup.

Sadly, I will not be at home for Christmas this year, but I will be making Babcia’s Christmas soup here in Singapore. This soup recipe is not only a way to remember Babcia, but its a family tradition at Christmas that helps us not only to remember and appreciate our heritage, but to remind one another how lucky we are to have the family we do. This is one recipe I will never modify.**I’d like to thank my mom for sharing the history of Babcia’s mushroom soup, and of course, for the recipe!**  Overall Recipe Rating: I’ve decided not to rate this recipe, because it has a deeper meaning for me, going far beyond the recipe itself. Do you have any family food traditions? I’d love to hear your stories. Comment below!