To put a personality like Elvi in a few words runs the risk of grossly leaving out the essence of it. We could start with detailing how she has brought up her twins - intelligent, versed with the world and its cultures, playing rock music, riding horses, learning capoera, crocheting, volunteering in underprivileged countries, swimming in Slovakian streams, and sometimes quite literally living in bubbles. But that would leave out the part where her battle with cancer only increased her determination, courage and the zest for life.
Since this lovely family of four is perpetually on the move, we asked Elvi to share some of her latest cooking endeavours in her latest house somewhere in Slovakia. We’ve elaborated one of her soup recipes, which is a traditional Kapustnica Christmas soup.You can follow the adventures of Elvi and her family on @babocanyc on instagram
We have a very hectic household and cooking is a challenge. My husband and I eat mostly plant-based meals, while the kids love their meat of any form (burgers being their absolute favourite), so preparing meals that everyone will love is truly a big task. I love using my instant pot because of its convenience and make all sort of soups and stews. Our family's favorite is pizza (delivered to our home every Friday) but also Mexican burritos and burrito bowls. We adore Asian cuisine, in particular Thai and Indian, but I am never able to replicate the richness, complexity and authenticity of the flavors. This is something I would still love to learn and perfect.
Currently, we live in a small town of 36000 people in the South of Slovakia, near the Hungarian and Austrian border, where I was born. I grew up on Hungarian cuisine, mostly based on pork, chicken, potatoes, stews and homemade pasta dishes. The most well-known Hungarian dish is the "goulash" often made outside as a party dish on an open fire. Also popular in the region is Wiener Schnitzel traditionally made of pork. Simple, thick vegetable stews are what children are brought up on here - they are similar to thick milk based, partially pureed soups. The most popular are potato, pea, lentil, spinach stews and are often served with smoked sausage or meat patties and crusty sourdough bread. Bread is eaten with virtually everything starting from breakfast and ending at dinner.
The following is a sauerkraut soup "Kapustnica" served as a traditional Christmas dinner in the Slovak culture, but also delicious during colder days. There are many ways to prepare this soup. I make it vegetarian and add meat later to satisfy everyone in the family, but no doubt, cooked with smoked meat the flavor would be much more robust and traditional. Of course, red paprika or smoked red paprika is added to most dishes in the region, as in this dish also. Knowing the benefits of the sauerkraut I like to add as much of it as possible, but feel free to add as you see fit.
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
500 g sauerkraut
2 teaspoon oil
1 x 400g can of pinto beans
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
800 ml vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
black pepper, salt
1 bay leaf
- peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Slice carrots and cube potatoes.
- Heat oil in a large pot on high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the carrots, pinch of salt, paprika and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, sauerkraut, (sliced sausage if you are making the non vegetarian version) and the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Taste if the carrot and potatoes are cooked - if so, your meal is ready. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread.
Note: Many recipes call for the sauerkraut to be rinsed before cooking it - I do not do this step as I love the taste, but you may choose to do so. Also, sometimes the tomatoes are too acidic, in which case I add a little maple syrup (you may add a little sugar) to cut the acidity. Feel free to play around with the seasoning to suit your taste. Enjoy your meal!