The pickle soup served at two of Dillsburg's annual events — the PickleFest in May and the Pickle Drop on New Year's Eve — is not really an acquired taste, said Scott Shugart, the man responsible for finding the recipe some two decades ago.
"It's a little out of the ordinary," Shugart, the director of the Dillsburg Senior Center where volunteers make the soup, said recently.
"People either like it or they don't," he said. "Some people buy it by the quart and others say, 'Nope. I tried it once. That's enough for me.'"
The next chance to sample the pickle soup, or stock up if you are a fan, is at the May 14 PickleFest. The festival on Greenbriar Lane includes a street fair, arts and craft vendors, a pickle-eating contest (adult and child categories) and activities for children.
Publick Tyme, featuring historical displays and demonstrations, tours, reenactments and encampments, will be offered at nearby Dill's Tavern.
Those brave enough to try the pickle soup are probably brave enough to try the pickle ice cream, which is available only at the PickleFest.
But Shugart recalled the history of the PickleFest pickle soup.
Shugart said the soup's taste "is not what you think." And, he does not remember what made him go searching for pickle soup recipes. It may have been somebody's suggestion, he said, but knows it was in connection with the PickleFest and the Pickle Drop.
He found the recipe in a cookbook by Cheryl Brooks titled "Unusual Soups," he said. (The cookbook author is not the same Cheryl Brooks who also writes romantic novels.)
Shugart explained that the recipe he picked is a Polish recipe and that it got the seal of approval from a Dillsburg postal carrier.
"She was delivering letters to the senior center and we gave her a bowl," Shugart said. "She knew what it was before she even tasted it. She said, 'Ah, pickle soup.'"
The soup recipe is not exactly a closely guarded secret, Shugart said.
"If anybody asks, we give them the recipe or tell them where to find it," he said.
Dill Pickle Soup recipe
- 1 lb. sour dill pickles, including the juice
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 6 cups stock (Shugart said chicken stock is best for this soup.)
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 2 cups cooked lean pork, shredded
- 2 tablespoons of softened butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 cup heavy cream
- lemon juice
- 1 cup sour cream
- Drain the pickles, reserving the juice, and slice them thinly.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan and add the pickle slices, sauteing them over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Push the pickles to one side, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the onions and garlic. Cook until soft and slightly browned.
- Incorporate the pickles and cook together for 1 minute.
- Add 1 cup stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned particles.
- Transfer this mixture to a medium soup pot, add the rest of the stock, the reserved pickle juice, and the carrots. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Add the shredded port and cook 15 minutes more.
- Knead together the softened butter, flour, and dill into a ball and add it to the simmering soup, stirring to blend.
- Cook 2 minutes until the soup thickens.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, remembering that salt tends to accentuate the sour taste. If soup is not tart enough, add lemon juice to taste. Serve hot, with dollops of sour cream.
Recipe from Cheryl Brooks' "Unusual Soups."
If you go
What: The annual PickleFest street fair.
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 14.
Where: Greenbriar Lane and Harrisburg Pike, Dillsburg
Directions from York city: drive north on Carlisle Road, Route 74; continue on Old York Road; turn left onto Greenbriar Lane.