One of the cruelest tricks played on me in my finicky youth went down the first time I tried my grandmother’s mushroom soup. This, along with her pierogi and golabki, was among her repertoire of second-generation Old World recipes that everyone else in the family craved like perpetually starved peasants but made me cringe with unwarranted revulsion. To my relief, it only made an annual appearance every Easter.

But the year I learned to appreciate mushrooms on their own (jarred Jolly Green Giants) I gave the dark brown brew clotted with thinly sliced fungi a tentative slurp. To my surprise and enduring horror Gram’s soup was based on a lip-locking abundance of Frank’s Kraut Juice.

Many Easters later, by the time I’d learned to embrace most things acidulated and all things Polish, Gram was long gone and so was any institutional memory of how to make the soup. The handful of online renditions I considered didn’t seem to call for the requisite amount of sour power, and in any event, I was hornswaggled if I could find pure kraut juice for sale anywhere in Chicago—not a problem I’d encounter if I was still in Western PA.*