“Well, basically,” the server said, rolling her eyes at having to explain this so often, “vomacka is a creamy vegetarian soup. With no meat.” Explanation over.
For those wanting to know more, vomacka (voh-MAHTCH-ka) is the Czech word for “gravy.” It’s also a comfort food soup, comprised at its most basic of cream or half-and-half as well as potatoes, green beans, and dill. But there are variations galore throughout Eastern Europe that add pretty much any vegetable you can think of. So it’s not surprising that Minnesota communities with roots in Eastern Europe, like New Prague and Jordan, have vomacka as a regular item on cafe menus, using house recipes that are said to be generations old. If you happen to be in either of these charming towns (easy day trip from the Twin Cities), here are your options.
Lau’s Czech Bakery, on New Prague’s Main Street, offers vomacka every Thursday (and into the weekend if there’s enough). The version served here is bare bones, mostly green and yellow beans and potatoes. The base is silky and thick, but it would benefit from some more aromatic veggies; if there were any celery or onions involved here, they weren’t detectable. Diners have the option of squirting a bit of white vinegar onto the soup to up the flavor level.
In nearby Jordan, the Jordan Feed Mill also serves vomacka on Thursdays and into the weekend on occasion. The Mill, which brings out a list of specials handwritten on white index cards, serves a vomacka with noticeable celery and onions along with the potatoes and green / yellow beans. This makes for a more flavorful base without adding vinegar. But the soup is not as creamy as its counterpart at Lau’s and would benefit from the silkier texture, and it could use more dill. (Note: if you stop here for lunch, be sure to be seated in the dining room, which has great views overlooking Sand Creek.)
One of the newer entries is found at the Fishtale Grill in New Prague. Big chunks of celery and onion meld perfectly with the green and yellow beans and potatoes, and the amount of dill involved is hearty. The soup’s texture is pleasingly creamy, and it almost makes the idea of winter palatable again — this would be the perfect soup to order during a cold snap. Bonus: vomacka is on the menu every day at the Fishtale.
The Eastern European soup known as vomacka is alive and well at the Jordan Feed Mill in Jordan and Lau’s and Fishtale Grill in New Prague.
Lau’s Czech Bakery
121 Main St W
New Prague, MN 56071
HOURS: Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-7p.m
Jordan Feed Mill
200 Water St
Jordan, MN 55352
HOURS: Tues-Thurs 6am-2pm, Fri-Sat 6am-8 pm, Sun 6am-2pm
The Fishtale Grill
200 County Road 37 E
New Prague, MN 56071
HOURS: Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10 pm, Sun 8am-9pm