In the Slovak, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Christian tradition, sour mushroom soup (machanka or mačanka) is a meatless soup served for Christmas Eve velija supper and also any time fasting is required, like Advent and Lent.
It's a hearty soup made with woodsy dried mushrooms that must be reconstituted by soaking overnight, so plan accordingly.
- 2 ounces dried imported or porcini mushrooms
- 6 cups water
- 1 whole medium onion (peeled)
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
- Salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 3/4 cup sauerkraut juice
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil (or butter if not fasting)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour mixed with 1 cup water
Gather the ingredients.
In a medium bowl, combine the dried mushrooms and 2 cups of the warm water. Cover with plastic and let soak overnight.
The next day, remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid without disturbing the sediment at the bottom and chop them into small pieces.
In a large pot, carefully pour in the soaking liquid without disturbing the sediment at the bottom. Add the chopped mushrooms, 4 cups water, the whole onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until mushrooms are tender.
Remove onion and add 3/4 cup sauerkraut juice or to taste.
In a small skillet, brown the flour in the 1/4 cup oil until a dark brown roux is achieved and add to soup, whisking until smooth. Temper the mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup water by adding a little hot soup into it, whisking until smooth. Pour the tempered mixture through a strainer back into the hot soup, stirring constantly.
In a large skillet, add 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil and brown the sliced onion until darkand caramelized. Set aside.
When ready to serve, add browned onions to soup, mixing well. Pour into a heated soup tureen or ladle into heated soup bowls.
- For Christmas Eve, the soup course for Slovaks who are Catholics typically is kapustnica, a sauerkraut soup with mushrooms, garlic, caraway, paprika, nutmeg, onions and apples or plums for a hint of sweetness. When the soup is served on a non-fasting day, pork and sausage are added to the cooking pot.
- In the eastern part of Slovakia, it is called jucha and is made only from sauerkraut juice mixed with dried peas, plums and, on nonfasting days, can include sausage. Where the cuisine has been influenced by the Orthodox Christian tradition of Ukraine, it is known as mačanka (also spelled machanka) as in the above recipe.