Every nation has its traditional dishes which are done differently in every household, but everyone believes that theirs is the one, the best.
We Hungarians have our lecso. Nearly 20 years ago one autumn evening while sitting around in our dorm room with some friends we had decided to make lecso for dinner. Everyone was very enthusiastic till we started to discuss ingredients then our conversation quickly descended into heated argument. It turned out everyone interpreted lecso ( a very humble dish of onions, fresh peppers and tomatoes softened in oil/fat) differently. For me it means the above vegetables fried with eggs, others wanted to add potatoes, sausages even rice. Since then I have heard even more peculiar lecso ingredients (a bit of sugar on vegetables eaten with bread or double cream, anyone?), but 20 years on I am far less easily puzzled.
But back to the cabbage soup. After discovering that our local Gala supermarket sells sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) we decided to cook kapustnica (Slovak cabbage soup) for New Year’s Eve. I have never cooked one before, but couple of years ago a lovely former colleague of mine had invited us to a pre-Christmas party at her place and she made her family’s kapustnica for us, I still dream about it.
I looked up the recipe on the internet, but there are even more options than with our lecso. In some regions it is done as a white soup with dried mushrooms and milk, others add some lentils to ensure good luck and riches for the next year. So Katka’s fantastic soup still lingering, we have created our version with Polish sauerkraut, Italian dried mushrooms, Californian prunes, local potatoes, spicy Italian sausages, bacon and smoked gammon and garnished it with Russian smetana. Multiculturalism at its best:)