Author Notes: If you grew up with a Grandma who made sauerkraut, dumplings, and polish sausage, there is a chance you've had a version of this surprisingly delicious and homey soup. Technically speaking, czernina is made with duck, and traditionally with duck or goose blood. However neither my Babcia nor my mother made it with either....country style pork ribs were their meat of choice, and sans blood...that is how I make it too. There are recipes available for "mock czernina" that are meatless save for the broth, so I have no reservations about offering our family's tradition here! This is a nostalgic dish for many Pols, and in our family it always meant a kitchen perfumed with spice and savory, full bellies happy with chewy kluski noodles, and that special something that prunes lend to meat dishes. —Sunwindrain
Large, sweet yellow onion, quartered and rough chopped
cups Whole pitted prunes (I use 2 cups)
Lbs. Country style pork ribs
cup Cider vinegar
cup Brown sugar
Kluski noodles to accompany soup
tablespoon Beef stock concentrate
- Bring to a boil enough water to cover ribs in a large, heavy-bottomed pot...I use a 5qt. Dutch oven. Once water is boiling, add ribs and reduce heat to simmer for at least one hour. Remove ribs and let cool separately. Shredd meat when cool, reserve. Once broth has cooled, strain and skim fat, then add meat back to broth and add 3 1/2 qts water along with all ingredients except vinegar and brown sugar.
- Simmer on low flame for 2-3 hours until onions have melted and prunes are very soft.
- When soup is ready, cook kluski noodles until al dente. Just before serving, add vinegar and brown sugar and adjust taste with salt and pepper as necessary. This is a sweet and sour kind of soup, but the vinegar lends just the right balance of salt and sour. A few cracks of pepper is all the extra spice I add. My mom thickens the soup with a flour/water slurry, but I prefer a clear broth to really enjoy the bright flavors of the prunes and the meaty richness of the ribs.
- To serve: in each bowl place a generous amount of kluski noodles. Top with soup, making sure everyone has some of the onions, the meat, and of course a few prunes.