Polish Żurek

Updated: 3 days ago

Żurek is a traditional Polish soup and truly one of my favourites on the Easter holiday table. Prepared in many varieties that differ across Poland and every household. The flavour is complex and unique, thanks to the fermented Rye starter that works as the main ingredient. Once you try it you will love it just like I do :)

How to prepare Żurek?

First of all, to make Żurek you need to prepare the starter, it is simple and it doesn't require maintenance but it takes 5-7 days to ferment. You can also buy the premade version in European supermarkets but the flavour will not be as good as a homemade version.

Polish Żurek in the bowl
Polish Żurek

This recipe makes 6 portions

Ingredients for the starter:

  • 500ml (0.52 quart) bottled or boiled water at room temperature (no chlorine)

  • 5tbsp rye flour (you can use wholemeal wheat flour as well)

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 10 allspice berries

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 1,5 litre (1.58 quart) of vegetable bullion

  • 500ml (0.52 quart) of Żurek starter

  • 4 small pork sausages (you can also add smoked sausage)

  • 250g (8.8oz) uncut smoked bacon (boczek)

  • 1tsp marjoram

  • 3 tsp of double cream (soured cream works too)

  • Salt to taste

To serve:

  • Boiled diced potatoes

  • Hard-boiled eggs cut in half

  • Sourdough Bread

  • Fresh parsley or dill

  • Cracked black pepper

Instructions for the starter:

1. For the preparation of the starter, you need to use water without chlorine as it kills the microbes, simply boil the water first and let it cool down to room temperature.

2. Put all the starter ingredients into a clean jar and stir with a spoon to combine.

3. Cover the jar with a paper towel or a cloth and tie the top (this helps the starter to breathe).

4. Place the jar at room temperature away from direct sunlight. After around 5-7 days your starter is ready to use. You can use it straight away or store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if you keep it in the fridge remove and discard spices from the starter, if you use it straight away you can add it as it is).

Instructions for the bullion:

1. To Prepare vegetable bullion combine 1L of water with a couple of diced carrots, 2 medium onions, a piece of celery and leek. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer with a lid on the pot, and set the timer for 1 hour.

2. Once the bullion is ready, separate the liquid from the vegetables (I keep carrots for the soup and discard everything else).

Instructions for the soup:

1. Dice bacon and pan-fry on high heat for 4-5 minutes to render the fat.

2. To the hot stock add fried bacon, cooked carrots, whole or sliced sausages, and 1tsp of marjoram and bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Whisk Zurek starter and pour into the soup, simmer until soup thickens.

4. Take the soup off the heat and remove the sausages, slice and place it back in the pot.

5. Put the cream in the bowl and add a ladle of the soup, mix it together and pour it back into the pot (this prevents the cream from curdling).

6. Serve Żurek with hard-boiled eggs and fresh sourdough bread.


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  • You can add 1 tbsp of grated horseradish to the soup, it works fantastic.

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