Updated: Jul 17
Żurek is a Polish traditional soup and we prepare it at any time of the year. I can still remember the smell of homemade Żurek from my childhood when my grandmother used to make it, always so delicious. Once you try it you will love it just like I do!
How is Żurek made?
First of all, to make Żur you need to prepare the starter, it is simple and it doesn't require maintenance but it takes 7 days to ferment. You can also buy premade starter but the flavour will not be as good.
What do Żurek taste like?
This soup is made with the use of fermented rye flour and which gives it sour notes of flavour. Żurek can get quite thick if too much starter is added, in Poland, there are few varieties depending on the occasion and region.
This recipe makes 6 portions
Ingredients for the starter:
500ml (0.52 quart) bottled or boiled water at 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 the 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 are 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 at 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 the 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 it 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 a combination of sauerkraut water to implement the bacteria.