This is simply the best hangover cure there is. The meat needs to have a good amount of fat on it, as this is the whole point of using gherkins—they cut through the fat. You should only use brined or fermented gherkins, as even the nicest vinegar will spoil this dish. Look for a label with 'ogórek kwaszony’ in Polish or Eastern European shops. Make the stock in advance and freeze it; it doesn’t take long to make this soup once the stock is ready. The fat, salt, and sugar from caramelized carrot will make you feel alive again. —Olia Hercules
(1 pound) pork ribs or beef short ribs
2 1/2 liters
(4 pints) cold water
onion, peeled but kept whole
(3 1/2 ounces) pearl barley or rice
carrot, peeled and grated
(3/4 ounce) parsley root, peeled and finely chopped, or parsley stalks, finely chopped
(3 1/2 ounces) gherkins, peeled and grated
(7 fluid ounces) gherkin brine from the jar, divided and used as needed
To make the stock, cut the ribs into individual ribs, place in a large saucepan, and cover with the water. Add the whole onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and allspice and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat as soon as the water boils and skim the scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for a couple of hours while you watch your favorite TV series and eat leftover gherkins.
When the meat is tender and falling off the bone, add the pearl barley or rice and cook for 15 minutes, until it is cooked but still has a bite.
Meanwhile, sweat the diced onion in the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the parsley root or stalks and carrot and continue to cook over a medium-low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until everything is soft and starting to caramelize slightly. Add to the stock.
Add the gherkins to the stock, taste and add 100 milliliters (3 1/2 fluid ounces) of the gherkin brine. Taste it and add more if you think it needs more salt. The broth should taste rich, but also a little salty, sweet, and sour. Scatter with spring onions and serve with a huge hunk of good bread.