Zurek / Zur (Polish Sour Rye Soup)

Zurek / Zur (Polish Sour Rye Soup)
Recipe type: Soup, Side Dish
Cuisine: Polish, Eastern European
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Zurek (ZHOO-rek), or zur, is quite the traditional Polish soup with a distinctly sour taste, which comes from so-called sour leavening, originating from fermentation of rye flour and bread crusts. Zurek soup is especially common as a food eaten during the Easter holidays. To serve it like the Polish do, hollow out a round loaf of sourdough (zakwas) bread, similar to San Francisco's Boudin Bakery serving their soups in the hollowed-out sourdough. This soup is often accompanied with hard-boiled eggs, a roll, and kiełbasy (kielbasa, Polish sausage), usually a white sausage, or biała kielbasa.

Like many Polish soups, zurek, is a sour soup. In English, it is referred to as the "sour rye soup," because it is made with soured rye flour along with meat. Meats that go with this soup are typically kielbasa, or smoked pork sausage, bacon, or ham. Though zurek is specific to Poland, a variation of it is also found in other western-Slavic cuisines; Slovakia has its similar kyslóvka, and the Czech Republic has their kyselo. There is also another Polish variant known as barszcz biały ("white borscht soup"), made with wheat flour instead of rye.
Sourdough Base (zakwas)
  • 1 cup rye flour
    zurek soup sourdough bread bowl
    Zurek Soup; taken from www.garnek.pl.
  • 2 peels from two slices of wholemeal/rye bread (opt.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 2 white sausages, chopped
  • Sourdough base (zakwas)
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 3 potatoes
  • 3 tbs. thick sour cream
  • 1 tbs. of marjoram
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • hard-boiled eggs when ready to be served
Sourdough Base (zakwas)
  1. Pour the rye flour into a pot, preferably clay in nature, if possible.
  2. Add the pressed garlic.
  3. Pour warm water into mixture.
  4. Mix it well enough so that the mixture is consistent and thickens slightly.
  5. Leave for 4 to 5 days in a warm place, like on a windowsill. After these few days, it should have that distinctive sour smell. This dough can be stored in containers for up to a month.
  1. Pour our sourdough into a large pot, add about a cup of water(to taste, acidity is adjustable), and bring to a boil.
  2. When boiling, add the parsley, bay leaves, marjoram, and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Add the chopped sausage.
  4. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a separate pot.
  5. Cook until soup gives off a strong aroma.
  6. Add more salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste.
  7. Turn off heat, then add the sour cream, eggs, and boiled potatoes.
  8. Stir and serve.
* For the sourdough base (zakwas): If mold forms on top, remove it before using the zakwas. Discard the bread crust and garlic before using.

* Serve in a hollowed-out sourdough bread bowl, if possible!



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