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Żurek (a Polish Rye Soup)

  • Author: Polish Housewife
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 90 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 - 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: Polish


A hearty soup with a sour broth often served in elaborate rye bread bowls



for zakwas (the sour liquid):

  • 5 tablespoons rye flour
  • Crust from a slice of rye bread (optional)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 allspice berries

for the soup:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound Polish sausage or bratwurst, sliced
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large parsnip, sliced
  • 1/2 celery root, peeled and diced
  • 68 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon horseradish (fresh grated or jarred)
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • hard-boiled eggs


for the zakwas (the sour liquid)

  1. Add the flour and crust (if you’re using it) to a large jar
  2. Add the water, garlic, bay leaves, and allspice
  3. Mix thoroughly, as it sits, it will seperate with the flour sinking to the bottom
  4. Cover the jar with a paper towel or kitchen towel (I like to secure it with a large rubber band)
  5. Let sit for five days, giving it a swirl daily to mix

for the soup:

  1. Brown the bacon and sasage in a Dutch oven
  2. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip and celery root
  3. Add water and bay leaf and garlic, simmer for 40 minutes
  4. Add the potatoes and marjoram, cook until the potatoes are tender
  5. Add 2 cups of the zakwas (strained or flour mixed in, your choice) if you want the soup more sour, add the remaining zakwas
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Add horseradish and cream
  8. Return to a boil and remove from heat
  9. Serve by garnishing with hard-boiled egg, halved, quarted, or diced


Some cooks will make a broth with the soup veg and discard the vegetables before proeeding. I prefer to eat them. Fiber is good for you.

Some cooks will cook the potatoes seperately before adding to the soup. I wanted them to cook in the soup, the starch adding thickness to the broth.