You may not know this, but I lived in Prague for just shy of two years, working as an English teacher. I only left last year, and have visited again once since then. The Czech Republic is a beautiful country, and Prague is an amazing city where you'll have to work hard to find a bad (or expensive) meal! Plus, their beer is wonderful... mmm...here's a quick link to my travel blog, with some Czech-based posts.
The Czech wouldn't dream of having lunch without a soup starter, and throughout the week restaurants offer lunchtime specials - usually soup and a main dish for the equivalent of £3-4. As ridiculously filling as these meals are, they're a great introduction to Czech cuisine, and if you look in the right places you can find some great meals. Yes, a great many of them only offer "hovězí vývar" - a watery beef broth that doesn't do much for the taste-buds - but if you can get your hands on bramboračka, or potato soup, give it a try.
After satisfying my craving for it on my last visit to Prague, I started to wonder how to actually make it myself. I was delighted to find that it's easy to make, and due to its simple ingredients it's a good way to get some vegetables into your system!
To make enough to serve 4, you will need:
4 mushrooms (of your choice)
1 carrot, peeled and cut
100g of celeriac root, peeled and cut
100g cabbage, sliced
1/2 a leek (mostly the white part)
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. After washing the mushrooms, place them in a small bowl of hot water. Leave to the side and start to sauté the onion in a pan with a splash of olive oil. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
2. Add all of the vegetable (except the mushrooms) and stir for around 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms, including the water. Add more water until the water line is around 1cm higher than the vegetables. Add your salt and pepper.
4. Simmer on a medium-low heat until the vegetables are soft (usually 10-15 miutes)
5. Mix the flour with a little cold water, stirring quickly so it doesn't become lumpy. Pour into the pan and stir. Add in the thyme, parsley, marjoram and any other seasoning you might like.
6. Let the soup simmer for another 10-15 miutes. You may want to add a little more salt and pepper - the original recipe calls for broth or bouillon, but I'd only use this if you can find a non-MSG variety (all I had were OXO cubes, which are full of weird things).
Sometimes the Czechs eat this out of a bread bowl - if you fancy doing that, then hollow out a round loaf and go for it! However, the temptation to then eat all of the bread will possibly be too strong, and you'll find yourself very full!