Polish Potato Soup {Kartoflanka}

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Poles don’t take shortcuts when it comes down to cooking. If they do, it’s not often. You don’t need much to make a soup that will knock your socks off, just a few basics and your average soup will become extraordinary. Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. Carrots, check… potatoes, check… parsnip… maybe not always, but often… smoked sausage, check. Throw in a pot, wait 30 minutes and dinner is done. Deliciously fragrant, filling soup will not only satisfy your hunger, but also warm you through and through on a cold, winter night.

Kartoflanka [car-toh-flahn-kah] reminds me of a Polish bean soup that I made recently. Once you learned to make something well I guess, you just continue with it. All it takes is just changing up a few ingredients and you have a whole new dish. I imagine this soup was popular due to availability of cheap ingredients. Most Poles out in the country either grew potatoes or knew someone who did, therefore this versatile vegetable is so widely visible in Polish cooking. You see them used in  potato pierogi, kopytka, soups, stews and as a favorite starch to accompany kotlety mielone or schabowe. It is also my all time favorite vegetable therefore any reason to use it in my kitchen is a good reason. Today, I’m serving it up in a soup.

Polish Potato Soup {Kartoflanka}

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 8 cups / 1.5 kg of raw or cooked (love leftovers) potatoes, cubed
  • About 6 oz / 170 g of smoked pork (bacon, sausage, ham hock, or ham bone). Smoked turkey will also do.
  • 1 1/2 cups of peeled and cubed carrots (3 large carrots)
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 of a large celery root (or a couple celery stalks, sliced)
  • 8 cups / 2 liters of water
  • 1/2 tbs of salt
  • 6 peppercorns and allspice (whole)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • For roux:
  • 3 tbs of butter
  • 3 tbs of flour
  • 3/4 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 tbs of marjoram

Instructions

  1. If using raw potatoes, peel and cube them. If using leftover baked potatoes, cube them and set aside.

  2. Place raw potatoes*, smoked meat, carrots, parsnip, celery, salt, peppercorns and allspice in a large pot. Add water. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft.

    *If using cooked potatoes, add them when the rest of the veggies are soft and heat through.

  3. In a small sauté pan, melt butter, add chopped onion and sauté until slightly golden brown. Add marjoram and cook for another minute. Add flour and whisk until well combined. Add a couple of cups of hot soup and whisk to combine. Transfer roux into pot and stir well until soup thickens.

Try this recipe and share with us what you thought in comments below. I love to hear from you.

Smacznego!

Anna

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8 Comments

  1. My grandmother used to make a dish which I loved as a kid but I thought it was just carrots and potatoes. Do you of any dishes that have these bare minimums? Obviously some spices were in it to. Thanks

  2. I had no idea there was an English word for “zasmaszka”! (roux) I can’t wait to tell my mom 🙂 it’s just starting to drop below the freezing point here in Quebec, so I will definitely be making some kartoflanka this week. Thanks for sharing!

  3. If I use basic grocery store “American style bacon,” will the meat be safe to consume if I let the bacon cut squares boil for 20min with the rest of the vegetables?

    Or should I fry the bacon up first?

  4. My Aunt used to make me a Soup she called Popalanka(sp). It had a rue base, potatoes, mushrooms, celery, parsley. It had no meat, and as I don’t like carrots, she didn’t put any in. It came out with a medium brown, slightly thick base and was delicious. After she passed No one in my family remembered the recipe. My grandmother (who emigrated from Poland in 1900) taught her how to make it.
    Has anyone else ever heard of this soup.

    1. There is a soup called “zapalanka” or “przypalanka”, very close to what you remember. It’s exactly what you said, you heat some flour with lard (or bacon fat) until dark and then add water and veggies.

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