Kristen Bell Makes Slow Cooker Pickle Soup for the Holidays — Here's the Recipe

Don't knock this one until you try it!

Four things about this dill pickle soup recipe make it one you can't pass up. First, it's a pickle lover's dream. Second, it's the perfect hearty winter comfort food. Third, it's made in the slow cooker. And, finally (and maybe most excitedly), it's a recipe from Kristen Bell's family cookbook.

The cherished actress first shared this recipe on "Good Morning America" in 2021. She says the family recipe was passed down from her grandmother and has become a traditional holiday recipe that her Polish family loves to make. While she does acknowledge that pickle soup might be one of the weirder recipes that her family makes, she does warn you not to knock it until you try it.

Pickle soup comes in a ton of varieties — the Allrecipes site alone has five pickle soup recipes to choose from. The two most common varieties are Polish pickle soup (zupa ogórkowa) and Russian pickle soup (rassolnik). Bell's recipe, which consists of Polish dill pickles, potatoes, and veggies, falls into the Polish category.

Expert Tricks for Making Good Pickle Soup

Despite Bell's warning to not write this soup off based on the ingredients, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. I love pickles, but veggies swimming in a pickle and chicken broth had me worried about the flavor.

So, before making the recipe, I turned to one of our own pickle soup-loving Allstars, Nicole Russell (Soup Loving Nicole), for advice. As her username suggests, Russell loves soup and she says she's been making this Dill Pickle Soup recipe for years. Like any good recipe reviewer, Russell has some notes for making the best pickle soup possible.

The Ingredients to Choose

Because Bell's recipe is a Polish recipe, it calls for Polish dill pickles instead of Kosher dill pickles. The only difference between the two pickles is that Polish pickles have a zesty, peppery flavor while Kosher pickles have a garlicky flavor.

"I agree with Kristen and Polish dills are the way to go," Russell says.

While Bell's pickle choice is non-negotiable, she does give the option of using chicken broth or vegetable broth. If you can, always opt for chicken broth for a better depth of flavor, according to Russell.

Fresh Vs. Frozen

There is only one thing about this recipe that Russell doesn't agree with: the frozen hash brown potatoes. Of course, using a bag of frozen potatoes is much easier than peeling and chopping fresh potatoes, but that's what you should be doing, according to Russell.

"My advice is to use fresh chopped and peeled instead. Russets to be exact," she says. "Potatoes in soup tend to be a bit bland and require a bunch of added salt. Frozen have already absorbed all of the liquid they are going to absorb and tend to get mushy. Fresh however absorb the liquid they are cooked in and the pickle juice has just enough salt and flavor that they are seasoned perfectly with each bite without having to add additional salt."

The Secret Ingredient

Want to take the soup flavor to the next level? Add Russell's secret ingredient: curry powder.

"I actually very much dislike the taste of curry powder in general but add a teaspoon to dill pickle soup and the flavor combo is magical," she says.

Kristen Bell's Pickle Soup Recipe

Kristen Bell Pickle Soup
Bailey Fink

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded or chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/3-1/2 cup pickle juice, to taste
  • 5 Polish dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 1 28-ounce bag frozen potatoes (hash brown or Southern-style)
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (corn-peas-carrot combo)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium. Sauté onion, carrots, and celery until just softened.
  2. To a slow cooker, add onion-celery-carrot mixture, broth, pickle juice, pickles, frozen potatoes, frozen vegetables, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  3. Cook on Low for 4 hours; until vegetables are soft.
  4. Mix milk, sour cream, and flour in a small bowl until smooth. Add a small amount of hot soup broth to temper.
  5. Stir the milk mixture into the soup until smooth. Do not allow the soup to boil or it can curdle.
  6. Divide soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley and dill.

I Tried Kristen Bell's Pickle Soup

First and foremost, this soup really couldn't be much easier to make. Slow cooker soup that you can basically set and forget is always going to get extra points for ease.

Using frozen veggies is a great shortcut, and I also like to cut corners by rough chopping my fresh veggies in the food processor instead of cutting them by hand. This way they're finely diced, so you can sneak in extra veggies, and they cook up quickly in the skillet.

My biggest, and really only, complaint about Kristen Bell's pickle soup is that it's kind of bland. I expected it to be salty and have a lot of pickle flavor, but it's quite mild. Next time, I would follow Soup Loving Nicole's tips and use fresh potatoes instead of frozen ones and add a teaspoon of curry powder for more flavor. I might even add in more pickles and pickle juice because when you're expecting vinegar and dill flavor to pack a punch, and they don't, it's kind of a letdown.

Next time you're feeling frozen, think about whipping up a slow cooker full of this veggie-packed pickle soup.

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