been thinking about babcia all day.
since I was a little girl, my babcia and dziadzia (nan and grandad) have always been spoiling me. but not to the borderline of unreality, so I’d grow up to be a spoiled and naughty child. it wasn’t “we’ll buy you whatever you want” spoiling. it was the unconditional kind of love. they have always had a very special place in my thoughts, my Nan and Grandad. and now, when I’m so far away from home, even though I see them often, more often than I probably should (sometimes it feels like I live in both, Poland and the UK) I just can’t get rid of this intrusive, constantly re-appearing feeling of not being in the right place, right time.
there was a time in my life when I decided to cut myself off. I was 18, rebellious and I thought that the world belongs to me. I moved out from my parents’ house, set off to conquer the city. how mature I though I was! in fact, I was yet another example of a teenager who thought it’s not as difficult as they say. it took me years to realise how stupid that was. how much pain it must have cost my family. i was merely 45 kilometres away, yet it must have felt like I was on another planet. I might have as well been, they didn’t hear from me much. I was too busy discovering the new, great world.
my babcia is quite a bit of work, you see. she’s a type of person I’d call: Institution. always on top of things, strong, independent, impressively well organised. always hard-working and never complaining. incredibly warm person with a great, big heart.
and now? how much would I give up to be able to call my mum or babcia and tell them to come over for some cake. so many times, I baked obsessively, when I was upset or dealing with something challenging. and how sad it felt, all these pretty cakes and cookies perfectly lined up on my kitchen’s side, and not many people to share them with. I’d always send my boyfriend to take some round his parents’ and he’ d usually finish up the rest.
I think growing up comes down to realising that everything you’ve been taking for granted so far – will not last forever. it’s excruciatingly painful to suddenly become aware of the fact that there will be a time in life when I will be the oldest one in the family, when I will be a babcia. and for me, personally, it’s not getting old what scares me. it’s living, without the ones I now can’t imagine my life without.
but doesn’t matter how difficult or sad the events, life goes on. and so, it’s time to introduce my babcia’s Red Pepper Soup. i’m not very keen on peppers, to be honest. their strong and fairly distinctive flavour overtakes the dish and makes it a bit too much for me. but my boyfriend loves peppers. and this soup, surprisingly enough, makes the peppers taste mild and comforting. well done, babcia!
BABCIA’S PEPPER SOUP
2-3 chicken wings
1 red pepper, diced
1 pickled red pepper, diced
1 parsnip, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, whole
small piece of celeriac, grated
dried soup pasta
1 bay leaf
allspice, few grains
sour cream or crème fraîche
fresh parsley or dill
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Add chicken wings and all the vegetables (apart from marinated peppers) to a saucepan, add some cold water and pinch of salt. Add the bay leaf and allspice. Cook until the meat is soft.
2. Throughout cooking, there might be some nasty scum accumulating on the surface. Using a little sifter, skim off the scum from the surface of the broth.
3. When the meat is cooked, take it out of the soup, set aside. You can either eat it or tear it into small pieces and add back to the soup.
4. Add soup pasta.The rule is: as many tablespoons as many people you are willing to feed. Keep in mind that if you are using a small saucepan and making rather small amount of soup, I wouldn’t add more than 5 tbsp of pasta.
5. Cook until the pasta softens. Add chopped pickled pepper and the meat from the chicken wings (if you wish to add it to your soup). As for the pickled peppers: you can get them from any supermarket or make yourself. Recipe for Auntie’s Best Pickled Pepper here.
6. Add about 1-2 tbsp of sour cream to a mug and mix it with a ladle of soup. That will warm up the sour cream so it won’t curdle when mixed in the soup.
7. Add the sour cream to the soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper and fresh, chopped parsley or dill.