There is a saying in Slovenia: brez juhice ni kosila – ‘without soup, there is no dinner.’ It is traditional to serve soup as a starter with the main meal of the day in Slovenia. You will always find a dnevna juha – ‘soup of the day’ on the menu in traditional gostilnas (pubs with a dining area). Normally you will have a choice between goveja juha (beef soup) and gobova juha (mushroom soup). Both of these soups are traditional all over Slovenia, and an integral part of Slovenian cuisine. Below I will show you how to make them from scratch, in the traditional way: put that can of Campbells Condensed back on the shelf, please!
Goveja juha – Slovenian Beef Consomme
Slovenians take their goveja juha seriously. I even found it on the menu in Dvorec Zemono, a renowned fine-dining restaurant in the Vipava Valley. It is simple, healthy, delicious and also very versatile as you can use it as a stock in other dishes and gravies.
- 800g lean stewing beef
- 1 beef bone
- 5 litres water
- 3-4 carrots
- A little green veg (broccoli and and celery heads work well)
- A handful of parsley stalks
- 1 leek
- A little cabbage or 1/2 fennel bulb (optional)
- 1-2 skinned onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1-2 tbsp vegeta* or other good-quality vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fine noodles to serve
- Chopped fresh parsley to serve
(*If you’d rather not use additives, make a bouquet garni instead. However, every beef soup I’ve tasted in Slovenia uses vegeta. When I make it without vegeta, it doesn’t taste like Slovenian beef soup to me.)
- Put all of the ingredients apart from the stock into a large pan, whole, and pour over the cold water.
- Bring the soup to the boil, then turn down to a simmer, adding the stock and stirring well. Add a little cold water now and then if needed. Cook until the meat is tender, which may take up to 3 hours. Season to taste.
- Remove the meat and vegetables immediately you remove the soup from the heat. This will prevent the soup from becoming cloudy. Strain the soup through a sieve or cheesecloth, depending how clear you want it to be. (I’m happy enough with the sieved version.)
- Cook the noodles separately.
- Chop the carrots and meat from the soup.
- Serve the soup with the noodles, chopped meat and vegetables and chopped fresh parsley. You can add a dash of good-quality olive oil for extra flavour if you like.
Gobova Juha – Slovenian Mushroom Soup
Slovenia is a land with 60% forest cover, so there is an abundance of wild mushrooms, especially at this time of year. If you can’t get fresh wild mushrooms you can always use dried, and add texture with a few champignons. But of course, the recipe works best with fresh mushrooms.
- 500g mixed wild mushrooms such as boletes, chanterelles and morels. Slice larger mushrooms and leave the small ones whole.
- 3-4 potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks (optional – this will make the soup thicker and less delicate, but more hearty)
- 2 carrots, finely sliced
- 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100ml white wine
- 1 litre water
- 1tbsp vegeta or good quality vegetable stock* (see note above)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley to serve
- Sour cream to serve (optional)
- Fry the onion in the olive oil until softened.
- Add the mushrooms, carrots, garlic and celery. Fry until the liquid evaporates.
- Add the wine (if using) and simmer until the alcohol has evaporated.
- Add the water and stock along with the chopped potatoes (if using). Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are cooked).
- Season to taste, then serve with the chopped parsley and a dollop of sour cream.
If you make these recipes for yourself, let me know how they turn out. If you like this post, share it with your foodie friends, and follow the tag ‘Slovene Cuisine’ to make sure you don’t miss out on future posts.