Updated: Sep 26
Polish traditional soup, made with the use of fermented cereal. Starter needs to be prepared in advance, it is simple and doesn't require maintenance but it takes 7 days to complete. You can also buy premade starter but the flavour will be not as good. I can still remember the smell of this soup from my childhood when my grandmother used to make it so delicious.
Ingredients for the starter:
500ml (0.52 quart) bottled or boiled water in room temperature (no chlorine)
6tbsp 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 hot chicken or vegetable stock
500ml (0.52 quart) of Żurek starter
4 pork sausages (unsmoked)
250g (8.8oz) uncut smoked bacon (boczek)
300g (10.6oz) potatoes diced
1 medium carrot small dice
3 tsp of double cream
salt and black pepper to taste
3 boiled eggs, cut in half
Method for the starter:
1. For the preparation of starter, you need to use water without chlorine as it kills the microbes that you need to transform ingredients into new flavours.
2. Put all the starter ingredients into a clean jar and stir with a clean spoon until all combined.
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 in room temperature away from the direct sunlight, after a couple of days you will smell the aroma of all the spices that ferment, at that point you can cover it with a layer of clingfilm. After around 7 days your starter is ready.
5. You can use it straight away or store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if you store it in the fridge remove and discard spices from the starter, if you use it straight away you can add it as it is).
Method for the soup:
1. Dice bacon and pan-fry on high heat for 4-5 minutes.
2. To the hot stock add bacon, carrots, potatoes, and whole sausages, marjoram, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add Zurek starter bring to boil again and simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Take soup off the heat and remove sausages, slice and place back in the pot.
5. Put the cream in the bowl and add a ladle of the soup, mix it together and pour back into the pot (this prevents the cream from curdling).
6. Serve Żurek with hard-boiled eggs and fresh bread.
To speed up the fermentation process of your starter you can add 100ml of water from sauerkraut or sour pickled cucumbers.
Traditionally during the Easter Holiday grated horseradish is added to the soup.
In some restaurants, Zurek is served inside a loaf of bread.
Mashed potatoes can be served instead of diced.
Starter thickens the soup and makes it taste slightly sour. Lacto-Fermentation also helps to extract extra flavours from bay leaves, allspice and garlic.
For the gluten-free version, you can use the buckwheat flour with combination of sauerkraut water to implement the bacteria.