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Zurek - Polish Easter Soup

Żurek is a traditional Polish soup and one of my favourites on the Easter holiday table. It is prepared in various ways, each differing across Poland and within households. The soup's flavour is complex and unique due to the use of fermented rye starter as the main ingredient. Once you try it, you'll likely fall in love with it, just as I have.

To begin with, in order to prepare Żurek, you will need to make the starter. While the process is straightforward and doesn't require maintenance, it does take approximately 5-7 days to ferment. Alternatively, you could purchase a pre-made version from European supermarkets, but the flavour will not be as delicious as a homemade batch.

  1. What is Żurek Polish Soup?

  2. Skip to Recipe >>>

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Polish Żurek in the bowl
Definitely, one of the most aromatic Polish soups!

What is Żurek Polish Soup?

Żurek is a sour rye soup that has been enjoyed in Poland for centuries. It has a unique tangy taste that comes from the fermented rye flour starter, which is called "żur". This sourdough starter is mixed with water and boiled with a variety of ingredients, including potatoes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and herbs.

The history of Żurek dates back to the Middle Ages, where it was a staple food among peasants and workers. It was a way to use up leftover ingredients and stretch the limited resources that were available. Nowadays, it has become a beloved dish that is enjoyed by people of all ages and social classes.

In Poland, there are many variations of Żurek, each with its own unique twist. For example, in Silesia, they add white sausage and hard-boiled eggs, while in Kashubia, they use fish instead of meat. In Wielkopolska, they add marjoram and garlic, and in Krakow - my hometown we serve it in a bread bowl :)

As a chef, I like to experiment with different variations of Żurek. Sometimes I add mushrooms or other vegetables to give it a more hearty and filling taste. Other times, I like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream or a slice of freshly baked bread.

Żurek is not only delicious but also very healthy. It's high in vitamins and minerals and is a great source of protein. So, next time you're in Poland, be sure to try this traditional soup and experience the taste of history and tradition. Smacznego!

This recipe makes: 6 portions

Ingredients for the Żurek Starter:

Ingredients for the Żurek 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 Kielbasa)

  • 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

How to prepare Żurek Starter:

1. To prepare the starter, it is important to avoid using water that contains chlorine as it can kill the microbes. To do this, simply boil the water first and then let it cool down to room temperature.

2. Once the water is ready, add all of the starter ingredients to a clean jar and stir them together using a spoon.

3. Cover the jar with a paper towel or cloth and secure it in place with a tie. This will allow the starter to breathe while also keeping it protected.

4. Place the jar in a location that is away from direct sunlight and at room temperature. After approximately 5-7 days, your starter should be ready to use. You can either use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you choose to store it in the fridge, make sure to remove and discard the spices from the starter. If you use it right away, you can add the starter to your recipe as is.

How to prepare Bouillon:

1. To prepare a vegetable broth, start by combining 1 liter of water with a few diced carrots, 2 medium-sized onions, a piece of celery, and a leek. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Set a timer for 1 hour.

2. After the broth has simmered for an hour, strain the liquid from the vegetables. Save the carrots to use in your soup and discard all the remaining vegetables.

How to prepare Żurek Soup:

1. Begin by dicing the bacon and pan-frying it over high heat for 4-5 minutes in order to render the fat.

2. Next, add the fried bacon, cooked carrots, whole or sliced sausages, and 1 teaspoon of marjoram to the hot stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Whisk the Żurek starter with the sediment (remove spices) and pour it into the soup. Allow the soup to simmer until it thickens.

4. Remove the soup from the heat and take out the sausages. Slice the sausages and then return them to the pot.

5. In a separate bowl, combine the cream with a ladle of the soup. Mix the ingredients together and then pour the mixture back into the pot. This step will help prevent the cream from curdling.

6. Finally, serve the Żurek with hard-boiled eggs and fresh sourdough bread. Smacznego!

From Chef:

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Tips for Cooking Żurek:

  • Adding 1 tablespoon of grated horseradish to the soup can be fantastic for enhancing its flavour.

  • Add wild mushrooms for more depth in flavour.

Check out my other Recipes:

  • Lazanki - Polish Pasta - Lazanki is a traditional Polish sausage pasta dish that’s one of my childhood favourites. It’s a hearty and comforting meal with sauerkraut, mushrooms, onions, and smoked sausage that creates a unique and delicious flavour.

  • Krokiety - with sauerkraut and mushrooms are delicious, crispy and savory rolls that are filled with a flavorful mixture of sauerkraut and mushrooms, and are definitely worth trying in your kitchen.

  • Polish Apple Pancakes - A super simple recipe for delicious "Racuchy", prepare in no time, perfect for breakfast!

  • Bigos Królewski - Polish Hunter's Stew is a classic you must try!

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