Mrs. Pickle

Mrs. Pickle

It was during our Thanksgiving meal that my seven year-old grandson Dean was discussing the name of his stuffed dog: Pickle. He said he named the dog “Pickle” because it’s a fun word to say.

Deano told us he is not fond of the taste of pickles, but the word is a great name for a stuffed dog that you’re going to be spending a lot of time with as you are growing up. 

I remember thinking there is a story here, and someday I would probably write about pickles.

Oddly enough, just a week later, Steven and I were reading the Williams County Historical Book compiled in 1980. The book happened to fall open to the page about the Pickle family. Steven pointed to the last name and asked me what the word was. For some reason, he wasn’t able to sound it out. He knew it started with a “P,” yet kept asking if I was saying “Bill.”

I forwarded the video of our conversation to my brothers and sisters. What happened next was an exchange of emails about the Pickle family.

I went on to read about Mr. Benjamin Pickle who was born in 1818 and passed away in 1897. Mr. Pickle married Olive Benson.

It made me wonder what Olive thought of her new last name. She had to have been telling herself “If I marry Ben, my name will be Mrs. Olive Pickle.”

Those history books are a lot of fun to read. Benjamin and Olive became the parents of nine children. Olive passed away at the age of 41.

On December 25, 1865, Benjamin married Agnes Bostater. That means Agnes became the stepmother of nine children.

Benjamin and Agnes became the parents of six children. Their sons were Clyde and Lloyd. Their four daughters were Ella, Elva, Etta, and Effie. The book went on to tell the story of the lives of the 15 children of Mr. Benjamin Pickle.

Like my grandson Deano, I’m not a big fan of the taste of pickles, but I agree that the word is a fun word to say. We need fun words in our life, and we need odd things to laugh about.

A few months ago, on a sunny Friday afternoon, I realized I was having a bit of an odd day when my cell phone rang. It was a friend who was reporting a problem and needed to talk to someone. I remember telling her I was having a strange day and her dilemma just added to it.

That evening, my husband and I went to a friend’s house for supper and stayed to play Mexican Train Dominoes. After I drew my share of dominoes and lined them up as the game requires, I realized I had drawn 16 perfect dominoes. The better thing to do is keep a poker face instead of getting your camera out and showing your delight in the fact that your hands picked up the best 16 dominoes possible.  

Based on my reaction, the other players knew how they would need to play the game and get rid of their high numbers first.

I agreed with myself that I needed the day to end in such a fashion.  Certainly my weird day was over and not one more odd thing could happen. Then our friend told me she had been cleaning cupboards, and she found an antique pickle that she had inherited years ago. She wanted me to see it.

There it was before me. A real antique pickle. In a glass jar. Since 1906.

On a piece of paper affixed to the jar were the words: “Pickle grew in this bottle. August 1906. Before Viola was born. Then sealed after filling bottle with alcohol. Thanks Mom and Dad. Jonas and Sarah Wyse.”

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the century-old pickle. The next morning I sent the photos of the dominoes and antique pickle to her two children. Both of them laughed and told me they’d seen that antique pickle before. Someone in the family will inherit the pickle.   

That little cucumber, in my opinion, is testimony to the cleverness of the generations before us. They knew a lot. They were apparently innovative.    

In some cultures, Pickle Soup is a commonly served dish, but I had never heard of it until recently. I was visiting my friend Marty, and she handed a newspaper to me to take home. There on the front page was a recipe for Polish Dill Pickle Soup. I told her I keep stumbling upon the subject of pickles. And I happen to be writing about pickles. We laughed, and it ended up both of us were more interested in the Pickle Soup recipe than in the article she wanted me to read.

Marty laughed as she suggested I make a pot of the Polish Dill Pickle Soup and share some with her. The recipe looked easy. It was tempting. Pickle Soup may make for a good laugh. What would Deano think if he visited my house and learned that Pickle Soup was on the supper menu?

An online search for Pickle Soup recipes shows the soup is typically made with broth, potatoes, carrots, and sour cream. I did find some variations, however. Some cooks add sausage to it and another recipe calls for the addition of chicken and cabbage.

Weeks went by and Marty occasionally asked when I would be making Pickle Soup. Since I like to cook with organic ingredients, it took a while to round up the items.

The day came when I learned my grandsons would be staying with me, and I would have the opportunity to put Pickle Soup on the dinner menu. Turned out neither one of them were game for trying even one bite.

Cooking can be fun, but cooking is work when clean-up time is factored in. As most cooks know, it’s more fun when everyone simply likes whatever it is you’ve put together.    

Two hundred years ago, Mrs. Olive Pickle was cooking in her kitchen. I wonder what her kitchen looked like. How many kitchen gadgets did they need back then? I imagine she didn’t have to do any coaxing to get those around her to eat whatever was on the menu. She and her family certainly knew more about hard work in the kitchen than I will likely ever know.

I found a few friends who accepted my gift of a small helping of Polish Pickle Soup. All of them told me it was tasty. It just so happened some of them tried it on the hottest day of the year.  This recipe called for it to be served warm but when it’s hot outside, cold soup makes sense.  

Marty told me possibly the recipe could be improved with the addition of another diced potato and less pickle. No need for sausage. She coaxed her husband into trying just one bite. Then he ate leftover spaghetti for supper.

My daughter Teri told me it was surprisingly quite tasty. Try it next time with some meat she says – then maybe it would taste more like a cheeseburger. And the pickle should be diced into smaller pieces.

My friend Dianne first tried a cold bite then served it warm at dinnertime. She agreed with the others that more potato and less pickle would be an improvement. Our friend Elaine agreed with Dianne.

I made the soup again and took their advice to add a second potato and diced the pickle into quite tiny pieces. The official definition of “dice” means to cut into small pieces. “Mince” means to chop into tiny pieces. So minced it will be.

The second batch made its way to a Friday evening family gathering at Stevie’s house. It was fun telling them the soup is made with common ingredients and asking if they could guess what kind of soup it was. A couple of them knew it was Pickle Soup after taking only one bite. Most of them told me it was a familiar flavor but couldn’t identify it.

I will likely make additional batches of Polish Dill Pickle Soup and rename it as Cheeseburger Soup in an effort to eliminate the “coaxing” part of serving up a small bowl of this soup. Maybe some shredded cheese on top would make it even better.

When Deano was four years old, he dubbed me as the Queen of Best Soups, so I need to keep up the good reputation. Maybe I could write a cookbook “The Best Soups Ever” – a collection of keeper soup recipes.

Polish Dill Pickle Soup

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water

¾ cup juice from a jar of dill pickles

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 medium potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 large carrot, grated or sliced

½ cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons flour

½ cup dill pickles, minced

3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

The original recipe calls for one potato, but I added a second. I used sliced carrots rather than grated. I used 3 cups of vegetable stock (instead of 2 cups of stock and 1 cup of water).  

The original recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped pickles. I probably used less than ½ cup of minced pickles.


Heat the butter in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion just until translucent.  

Add the vegetable stock, water, pickle juice, salt, and pepper to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and carrot. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Drain the broth from the vegetables. Reserve the broth and vegetables.

Combine the sour cream and flour in a medium bowl, then slowly stir in ½ cup of the soup broth until smooth. Pour mixture into a saucepan. Heat. Slowly stir in the rest of the warm broth until mixture is smooth.

Stir the reserved potatoes and carrots into the broth. Add the minced pickle and dill – voila! You now have a batch of Polish Dill Pickle Soup.

Serve warm. 4 to 6 servings depending on how many bites they choose to try. If you are from a large family – serves 13.

If you don’t understand that last sentence, someone who was raised in a large family will likely smile as they explain: small portions were served. 

The words on the paper:
“Pickle grew in this bottle. August 1906.
Before Viola was born. Then sealed after filling bottle with alcohol.
Thanks Mom and Dad. Jonas and Sarah Wyse.”
The most perfect sixteen dominoes that could ever be selected for a
game of Mexican Train.
This little gal arrived at my house in a bag of organic carrots.
She looked like she wanted a seat on the kitchen windowsill – so that’s what she did.
I told her she’s pretty photogenic.

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